I have to be honest and tell you how uncomfortable this book made me. In reading about these high school kids fumble through their social and educational settings, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. I don’t want to think about those years, those uncomfortable settings, allowing things spin out of control with no power to stop it.
This book was first advertised on NetGalley with this safe looking cover.
I see now it is being marketed with this cover, and it is a much better indication of what is within.
This story follows a bunch of privileged kids from middle school when a tragedy occurs into high school. There is little hope for the characters in this story as they all face some sort of atrocity. The story starts with the kids in middle school when one child professes his love for another. The bullies of this school taunt him into choosing a permanent solution for a temporary problem. I wept over this first chapter. It was raw and hurtful.
One year later, we meet a new high school teacher who starts her career with optimism we hope every new educator would. She cares so much for the kids, some of which are still reeling from what happened. The story skips around and introduces a lot of the surrounding students to the tragedy. The problem is that they all have real issues of their own that do not ever get resolved. Not only that, but we don’t really hear from those kids again. The bullying is never really resolved. These awful kids go on to make horrendous decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
This book leaves the reader helpless as these kids go on with their mistakes. We are mere spectators to the way the story unfolds and we don’t get much into how the characters actually feel. It is written about bullies and gives so many cliches. We get worst case scenarios with these kids that I scratched my head and asked the one question we all need to ask, where are the parents?
I know this is fiction, but I am a little horrified at the thought that kids live like this. I think the idea that these kids are just governing themselves without any kind of moral compass, is part of the point of this story. I wanted to put this story down, and probably could have at so many points, but I really needed to see if the story would ever circle back to the first girl in the book and what became of her. It did. Although I could have done without many of the kids in this story, the way this was written, I could feel the angst in these kids. I got invested without even meaning to. It was good and bad. I am torn on how to rate this. The writing by itself was good, but I think some scenarios were just for shock and awe and I didn’t enjoy that. I would not recommend this story.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Published by Random House Publishing Group on January 10th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Coming of Age, Psychological
An unforgettable cast of characters is unleashed into a realm known for its cruelty—the American high school—in this captivating debut novel.
The wealthy enclaves north of San Francisco are not the paradise they appear to be, and nobody knows this better than the students of a local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral.
Lindsey Lee Johnson’s kaleidoscopic narrative exposes at every turn the real human beings beneath the high school stereotypes. Abigail Cress is ticking off the boxes toward the Ivy League when she makes the first impulsive decision of her life: entering into an inappropriate relationship with a teacher. Dave Chu, who knows himself at heart to be a typical B student, takes desperate measures to live up to his parents’ crushing expectations. Emma Fleed, a gifted dancer, balances rigorous rehearsals with wild weekends. Damon Flintov returns from a stint at rehab looking to prove that he’s not an irredeemable screwup. And Calista Broderick, once part of the popular crowd, chooses, for reasons of her own, to become a hippie outcast.
Into this complicated web, an idealistic young English teacher arrives from a poorer, scruffier part of California. Molly Nicoll strives to connect with her students—without understanding the middle school tragedy that played out online and has continued to reverberate in different ways for all of them.
Written with the rare talent capable of turning teenage drama into urgent, adult fiction, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with sorrow, passion, and humanity.
Praise for The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
“A young high school teacher stumbles on buried secrets in this engrossing, multilayered drama.”—Cosmopolitan
“If you are cruising for a quality read that’s also an unputdownable quickie, reach for Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. It’s a high-wire high school drama.”—Elle
“The characters in Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel affected me in a way I can’t remember feeling since I binge-watched all five seasons of Friday Night Lights. . . . You’ll walk away feeling like you could revisit a hallway drama armed with bulletproof perspective.”—Glamour
“In Johnson’s excellent debut, her sharp storytelling conveys an authentic sense of the perils of adolescence. . . . Readers may find themselves so swept up in this enthralling novel that they finish it in a single sitting.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Johnson’s polished debut novel puts a human face to the details of today’s daily headlines of teen life.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“In sharp and assured prose, roving among characters, Lindsey Lee Johnson plumbs the terrifying depths of a half-dozen ultraprivileged California high school kids. . . . It’s a phenomenal first book, a compassionate Less Than Zero for the digital age.”—Anthony Doerr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See
“The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is a deftly composed mosaic of adolescence in the modern age, frightening and compelling in its honesty: a terrific debut, and one that I didn’t want to set down.”—Julia Pierpont, New York Times bestselling author of Among the Ten Thousand Things