I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is January 10, 2017.
In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.
This book started out very strong. It starts with several of the more popular students in eighth grade and their actions that contributed to the suicide of one student. This section was very gut wrenching and heartbreaking, especially because I know this stuff actually happens. Kids don't realize how their actions affect others and sometimes kids don't even mean to be so cruel. It was interesting seeing Callie's POV and how torn she was in her actions, but she also just wanted to fit in.
But after that initial section, things kind of went downhill for me. It started with the POV of Molly Nicoll. We get her perspective as she enters the teaching profession for the first time. She is young and optimistic and she cares way too much (yes, that is possible). She is teaching a lot of the kids that were involved in the incident with the student in eighth grade. It's high school now and you can tell that the students have been impacted by that. The book would tell a few chapters from the teacher's POV, but then it would go to one of the students. But it would have one section by one student and then we would never hear from that student again. And there were so many issues that were talked about, but never fully resolved, like Callie's guilt and the sexual relationship between the teacher (not Molly) and one of the students and one of the students being arrested for a DUI and one of the students feeling so much pressure that he cheats on the SAT's (the author never did reveal his score and that was irritating). There was just so much going on and none of it was resolved. Molly gets way too involved with her students and I felt like her growth as a teacher came about way too fast and was kind of unrealistic. Also, I get that a lot of Molly's actions were a bit over the line, but one of the teachers suggested their job was NOT to care, but to teach. Isn't it possible for a teacher to do both?
This was a book that was supposed to be about bullying, but it ended up having so many voices and so many issues that I didn't really feel satisfied by any of the characters or the plot.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one.