The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 374 (ARC)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Author's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depo
Mariana Academy is a storied institution, built with gothic architecture, founded with a serious honor code and, for the most part, run by its students. But Prisom's Party, a secret society named after the school's founder, has been troubling these quiet halls, naming the student community code an empty motto—Brotherhood, Truth, and Equality for All—and exposing teachers, students, and the school for every indiscretion or dishonesty.
Taken by her parents from the familiar environs of Beacon Hill in Boston to escape the loss of her best friend, Iris Dupont is now living in small-town Nye, Massachusetts, and attending the hyper-competitive Mariana. Her only confidant is a chain-smoking, challenge-wielding spectre named Edward R. Murrow and when he tells her to stop moping and get out there in search of a story, she takes the charge.
Now Iris is on the hunt for a great story, one that will make her the youngest editor-in-chief in the school newspaper's history, but her research is leading her deep into the Trench (the school basement), toward the staff of The Devil's Advocate (the underground news organ of Prisom's Party), and to discovering all the secrets they both hold. Some of them seem to involve her favorite teacher, Mr. Kaplan. Some of them seem to point to the girl who used to live in her house—an albino named Lily Morgan who left the school abruptly twelve years ago and seems to have never returned. And everything seems to be connected to a rare book she found in her borrowed room, Marvelous Species: Investigating Earth’s Mysterious Biology.
Was all of this triggered by the string of incidents that set the school on high alert? Does it trace back to a scandal Mr. Kaplan is hiding in his past? What is the meaning of the strange symbol that keeps showing up in the wake of the Prisom's Party incidents? And when Iris gets deep into the story, torn by her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her yearning for a true friend, will it be enough for her to ask: What would Edward Murrow do?
This story is part coming-of-age and part mystery with elements of mean girls (raised to the fourth power). The mystery interestingly unfolds through three point of views. Iris, a new-comer to the private Mariana Academy because of recent tragedy, and Jonah, a biology teacher who had previously attended the school, tell their stories in the present. And Lily, an albino new-comer who didn't quite fit in, tells her story in the past. As an albino, Lily's limitations and looks made it difficult for her to fit in, making her vulnerable to whims of her peers. Jonah, now a teacher, wants his students to think outside the ordinary; meanwhile, he can't seem to escape his notorious reputation from his time spent in the Mariana halls. Iris doesn't struggle to fit in so much as she struggles to pursue her journalism dream of her mentor and journalism hero, Edward R. Murrows. It is through these three different views, the past, and the present do we unravel a troubling mystery.
Wow! This book is so different and wonderful at the same time. I absolutely love the different point of views which makes this novel. The point of views switch at each chapter and at no point does it create confusion. I loved how the characters came together to explain the mystery and everything became clear at the same time. In addition, the point of views made me equally invested in Iris, Jonah, and Lily. There are so many twists and turns that I really had no idea what was coming. When I began to have an inkling, I was still blown away by the ultimate conclusion. More importantly, this book wasn't about teenage angst. There were teenage issues and insecurities but the story encompassed so much more. I felt like Ms. Miller did a great job tackling teenage issues without making it seem as though a teenager's only problem in life is snagging the popular guy.
Overall, a wonderful read, but please be warned, these teenagers do surprise with the depth of their meanness and bullying.
Giveaway!!! I have one copy of The Year of the Gadfly for one luck US/Canada mailbox. This giveaway runs from today to June 15. Good luck!