Rose and Bel Enright are fraternal twin sisters. They are the offspring of a privileged New England college student and a Mexican scholarship student. Now they are fifteen years old and orphaned. Sent to live with their wealthy grandmother in Connecticut, they have been enrolled in Odell, a prestigious boarding school, the one where their parents met.
Rose is the ‘good girl’. Smart, studious and active in school activities. Bel is the prettier of the two girls but she has poorer judgment and struggles academically. She immediately falls in with the ‘wrong’ crowd. A bevy of ‘mean girls’ with little moral compass. The girls couldn’t be more different. After moving to Odell, the twins are separated by a rift – seemingly insurmountable.
Then Bel’s new friends begin a contest – a test to see who can first seduce the handsome new teacher/dorm head, Heath Donovan.
Heath and Sarah Donovan are academics who have been hired by Odell to clean up the unsavory reputation of Moreland Hall, one of the dorms. They are the dorm’s resident supervisors. They have two young children.
The task is daunting because the students at Moreland are spoiled, rich, over-privileged teens who spend a lot of their time socializing and tormenting the other students. Sarah and Heath also serve in an advisory capacity to some of the students.
Events at Odell escalate. A hazing ritual turns ultra nasty. Students are expelled. Other students are ostracized. Lawyers get involved. The social dynamic within the school gets turned on its head.
Then, one of the twins is brutally stabbed and killed.
Sarah and Heath Donovan’s marriage is in jeopardy. Who can Sarah believe? She is faced with a difficult moral choice.
When I was a teenager, I thought it would be wonderful to attend a boarding school. The nerd in me feels resentful that luscious, historical boarding schools always have to be sullied with social conflict. I would have approached the whole boarding school experience in much the same way as Rose did in this novel. The reader in me realizes that without the conflict there would be no story.
This thriller will be loved by many, though it didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped. It is a novel with themes of jealousy, infidelity, betrayal, cliques, intimidation, love triangles, lost trust, and blinding ambition. It was plotted in a clever way – in that you weren’t sure who the murder victim was until near the end of the book.
From a literary standpoint, this novel has great pacing, an atmospheric setting and is very well written. From a content standpoint, just not my cup of tea. If you like ‘mean girl‘ stories then you would probably love this one. I don’t think this was a bad book, but it wasn’t a personal favourite.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for NetGalley, Goodreads, and Amazon.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for review purposes.