From the Stonewall Honor–winning author of Like a Love Story comes a revelatory novel about the enclosed world of privilege and silence at an elite boarding school and the unlikely group of friends who dare to challenge the status quo through their writing. Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Kathleen Glasgow, and Jandy Nelson, with crossover appeal for readers of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.
Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of tension with her roommate, Sarah.
But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.
Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.
Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.
And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.
At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?
In 1999, five students with disparate identities are accepted into an exclusive writing club, the Circle, at elite Connecticut boarding school Chandler Academy. Beth Kramer, a cued-white townie who attends Chandler on scholarship, lives with anxiety and trichotillomania; Indian American Amanda "Spence" Spencer has a passion for acting; Ramin Golafshar recently immigrated from Iran to escape homophobic persecution, only to be targeted by bigoted classmates; high-achieving Sarah Brunson, cued as white, is still traumatized by her mother's cancer, now in remission; and Brazilian Cuban American Frederico "Freddy" Bello isn't sure he wants to continue pursuing a future in sports. The club provides a refuge from toxic campus culture, where Ramin is targeted with vicious hazing by bigoted classmates, and Beth and Sarah, both queer, feel safer remaining closeted. As the five hone their craft as writers, grow closer as friends, and form romantic relationships, they also confront their own insecurities—as well as Chandler's long, toxic legacy of bullying, homophobia, racism, and sexual assault. In a story told through the protagonists' alternating third-person viewpoints, not all characters are fully developed; still, Nazemian's (Like a Love Story) sharp social commentary makes this a riveting portrait of prep school life. Ages 13–up.
this book has great representation and an amazing plot. i love it so much and would recommend it to anyone who loves to read.