A teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war—with deadly consequences—in this dark and provocative novel by the bestselling author of The Passenger
“Riveting . . . full of imagination and power.”—Caroline Kepnes, author of You and Providence
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NEW YORK • WINNER OF THE ALA’S ALEX AWARD
When Alexandra Witt joins the faculty at Stonebridge Academy, she’s hoping to put a painful past behind her. Then one of her creative writing assignments generates some disturbing responses from students. Before long, Alex is immersed in an investigation of the students atop the school’s social hierarchy—and their connection to something called the Darkroom. She soon inspires the girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance. But just as the movement is gaining momentum, Alex attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her—and what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation, who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt. As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal—and potentially fatal—consequences for everyone involved.
Lisa Lutz’s blistering, timely tale of revenge and disruption shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long—and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.
Praise for The Swallows
“The Swallows is fast-moving, darkly humorous and at times shockingly vicious. The battle of the sexes within its pages couldn’t be more compelling. . . . Lutz delivers a frantic, morbidly funny story.”—BookPage
“A decade before the #MeToo movement kicks off in full force, women are coming for the patriarchy in this big ol’ novel, ripe with idiosyncratic characterization and memorable scenes.”—Refinery29
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novelist Lisa Lutz trains her perceptiveness and wit on a not-particularly-elite Vermont boarding school, where the faculty and students are locked in an increasingly dangerous battle for social dominance. When the young women at the school discover that their male classmates are ranking their sexual skills, the school’s long-simmering gender and class resentments explode. Lutz employs a rotating cast of narrators to deliver gossip and delicious details about campus love affairs and career meltdowns. The Swallows paints a riveting, multidimensional portrait of life in a cloistered world of privilege—where power corrupts quickly and status can shift in a heartbeat.
This sardonic standalone by the author of the Spellman Files mystery series takes no prisoners in its attack on the misogynist culture of a New England prep school in 2009. When 20-something Alex Witt, dismissed from her former teaching job under mysterious circumstances, starts teaching creative writing at Stonebridge, she senses a simmering conflict among her upperclassmen students. Most of the more popular young men, under the leadership of nefarious Adam, have formed a semisecret society devoted to rating the young women on their sexual abilities, and, not incidentally, humiliating them. The young women, led by volatile Gemma and joined by a couple of the more enlightened guys, decide to take them down by any means necessary. As the situation escalates, careers and lives are threatened. Lutz is harder on the faculty members, whose comfortable lives depend on looking the other way, than on the more weak-willed of the male students, who scrabble to protect themselves. Although she features such a large cast of characters, she builds her plot cannily and walks a neat line between satire and realism. Lutz's withering portrayal of how the #MeToo movement plays out in this rarefied setting should shock some and delight others.