The Learning Curve
College seniors and best friends Fiona and Liv were bound by a shared tragedy, until a handsome visiting professor and formerly lauded author with a scandalous past showed up on campus. Add his alienated wife to the mix, and you find yourself in the midst of three women triangulating around one man as they explore their desires, their needs, and their place in the world.
At what point do cliques turn cultish? Sam, our narrator in this delicious horror-comedy, finds out when she ends up in the inner circle of four rich girls in her MFA program. Initially having written off the girly squad—who call each other Bunny—with the smug disdain of a loner, an invitation to their infamous smut salon and off-campus “workshops” lures her into the darkest impulses of their hive mind.
When the heir of Ireland’s biggest pharmaceutical company appears to have been killed in a hit-and-run, the woman who found her—an academic whose research is funded by the same family’s philanthropy—is Detective Cormac Reilly’s girlfriend. He’s walking a fine line between personal and professional by insisting he take the case. But he may be in riskier territory than he realized when not everyone turns out to be who he thought.
Up the Down Staircase
In many classrooms, the only hope some kids have for success is in the hands of committed teachers. Sylvia Barrett is one such teacher in this novel that utilizes the integral correspondences between teachers and administrators and intimate insight from student assignments to explore both the hope and despair of an American public school system. The book is just as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago when it first published.
The Gifted School
Nothing says “moms and dads behaving badly” like this group of parents trying to get their kids into a mysterious but elite new grade school. Friends since their kids were born over a decade ago, the high stakes of test scores and parental ambition bring out all the lying, cheating, and backstabbing in this Desperate Housewives meets Lord of the Flies spin on the pressures of modern-day parenting in the suburbs.
The Other's Gold
Placed together in the same freshman suite, four college girls forge the seemingly unconditional love of a chosen family. But those conditions are tested over and over as they evolve from college BFFs into women with very different lives. Divided into four parts, each dedicated to a pivotal mistake made along the way, we find out how life’s ups and downs can both fortify and threaten even our strongest bonds.
Tell Me Everything
What if your closest friend was lying to you about who she is? Now what if those lies led to a murder on the cusp of your college graduation? Part character study, part suspense, this psychological thriller slowly reveals how Malin’s troubled past led her to skillfully manipulate the secrets and weaknesses of her tight-knit group of affluent friends, and why she’s so determined to use those secrets to hide her own.
At an elite boarding school with a longstanding tradition of boys behaving badly, the new creative writing teacher’s seemingly innocent assignment elicits responses from students that point to a much darker situation than “boys will be boys.” But when the girls decide to fight back, they find out they’re not just up against their classmates in their war against the school’s culture of sexism and objectification.
A Wonderful Stroke of Luck
Having landed at a school for troubled youth due to a toxic relationship with his father, Ben excelled and caught the eye of a brilliant teacher and his curated circle of high-performing students. After high school, however, we meet Ben as a privileged and successful but ultimately unhappy man whose cynicism seems deeply rooted in his inability to move past his high school experience.
It’s that time of year again. The time for new supplies, maybe some new clothes, and getting back into that familiar academic grind. But we think it’s time for some new reads, too. And not the kind you’re assigned, but the kind you stay up past your bedtime with because you just have to find out what happens. For your extracurricular reading pleasure, here are nine books set at school that will have you hooked.
Featured Image: @dojobeats/Twenty20