An unforgettable cast of characters is unleashed into a realm known for its cruelty - the American high school - in this captivating debut novel for listeners of Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep.
The wealthy enclaves north of San Francisco are not the paradise they appear to be, and nobody knows this better than the students of a local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral.
Lindsey Lee Johnson's kaleidoscopic narrative exposes at every turn the real human beings beneath the high school stereotypes. Abigail Cress is ticking off the boxes toward the Ivy League when she makes the first impulsive decision of her life: entering into an inappropriate relationship with a teacher. Dave Chu, who knows himself at heart to be a typical B student, takes desperate measures to live up to his parents' crushing expectations. Emma Fleed, a gifted dancer, balances rigorous rehearsals with wild weekends. Damon Flintov returns from a stint at rehab looking to prove that he's not an irredeemable screw-up. And Calista Broderick, once part of the popular crowd, chooses, for reasons of her own, to become a hippie outcast.
Into this complicated web, an idealistic young English teacher arrives from a poorer, scruffier part of California. Molly Nicoll strives to connect with her students - without understanding the middle school tragedy that played out online and has continued to reverberate in different ways for all of them.
Written with the rare talent capable of turning teenage drama into urgent, adult fiction, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual but rich with sorrow, passion, and humanity.
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Well Written Yet Heart-Wrenching Content
Fascinating. Unsettling. Mournful.
There are moments this reminded me of Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis, but these characters were far more redeemable. Their series of decisions were smaller, less regrettable, less intentional. More alive.
The first chapter of this book had me sobbing. Driving home from work, heading into a weekend and sobbing uncontrollably. This never happens, I assure you. I felt the hopelessness and abandonment of these characters. I knew what was coming and was powerless to stop it. I read each chapter to see their own views, their personal journeys and if they may be able to become entangled from the web of a shared experience. I read with so much hope for them all that this may be fixable. They all learn. They all grow and evolve. They all pay. Some of this is self inflicted and some of this is the product of the negligence or occasional yet fierce smothering around them. This is very well orchestrated, well coordinated and still an emotional tale. It's an interesting story where I somehow miss a character I never knew and can never comfort or guide. From that perspective alone, this book is extraordinary.
- Gwen B.
- N. Thomas