This book is one of those books about private school (that I love), a secret society and a girl reporter who likes to chat with Edward R. Murrow.
Iris and her family have moved to a new town and a new school. I am imagining Iris as a bit on the odd side. She carries around a sort of briefcase and she styles herself as a reporter in the manner of her idol, Edward R. Murrow. She is on the school newspaper but her ideas are severely restricted by the editor. She feels a kinship, a connection to her science teacher who also attended school here years ago. There is a sort of shrouded mystery going on with acts of bullying and both Iris and her science teacher are trying to find out who is involved. There are also secrets and questions about Mr. Kaplan and what happened to him while he was at this school twelve years ago.
To be perfectly honest...I didn't get invested in this novel immediately. There are flashbacks...lots of them. The story alternates between school now and school then. I was reading an egalley on my iPad and constantly checking back to keep characters and events straight in my head was tricky. Soon, however, I came to a point in my reading where I felt as though I knew the characters and knew the times that everything was happening. This was my point of total and thorough immersion in this novel.
Iris is approached by masked classmates with a secret task to carry out...or else. The members of this secret society have the ability to bully, scare and manipulate. Iris has been "chosen" to work for this group but... is she really working for this group? Who actually is doing the manipulating? Mr. Kaplan is also tasked by the school's headmaster to find out who is in this secret club. The mystery just gets more and more complex and fascinating.
Added to this mystery is a tragedy that occurred while Mr. Kaplan was a student. It involved three other students...Hazel, Lily, and Mr. Kaplan's twin brother. Iris is actually living in the house that Lily lived in...in Lily's room with Lily's things. This only makes her more curious about what happened then and sort of connects her to Mr. Kaplan now.
What did I love about this novel?
What I loved was the way the author connected then and now. I loved the quirky parts of Iris. I loved the surprises. Characters I thought were sweet and nice...really were just the opposite. I loved the weak parts of some of the characters as much as I loved their strong parts. I loved the slow reveal and that moment near the end when all the plot pieces and character actions fell neatly into place.
This book is different, surprising, and thought provoking. It is complicated. It drew me in slowly with its complex plot. It kept me guessing about its nice and often not so nice characters. It gave me lots to think about. It made me feel sad about what happened and it made me feel angry about wasted lives and the blindness of people. And at the end of the book...I was able to have hope for them....especially Iris and Mr. Kaplan and Lily.
I do like that from a book.
So...ultimately...should you read this book?
Should it be Kindled, Nooked, purchased, placed in a must read pile?
My answer to that would be yes!!!
The author wrote it brilliantly. There are so many things that you will learn by reading it. I can't even begin to tell you about the science part of it...the quirky parts of Iris that melted my heart. In spite of me not getting it at first...and that is just me...
it unravelled in just the right way.
I am still thinking about the complex character relationships. Still pondering the ending...
Thanks to Hannah and Carla at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt...
I have a lovely hard copy to give away...
Just leave your email in the comments...I will random.org a winner next Friday!
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