Title: The Swallows
Author: Lisa Lutz
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Page Count: 416
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
A teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war—with deadly consequences—in this dark and provocative novel by the bestselling author of The Passenger
When Alexandra Witt joins the faculty at Stonebridge Academy, she’s hoping to put a painful past behind her. Then one of her creative writing assignments generates some disturbing responses from students. Before long, Alex is immersed in an investigation of the students atop the school’s social hierarchy—and their connection to something called the Darkroom. She soon inspires the girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance. But just as the movement is gaining momentum, Alex attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her—and what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation, who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt. As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal—and potentially fatal—consequences for everyone involved.
Lisa Lutz’s blistering, timely tale of revenge and disruption shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long—and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.
Having read and enjoyed a book by Lisa Lutz before I was really expecting to really enjoy The Swallows however that really didn’t turn out to be the case. Just picking this one up I began thinking it has a bit of an identity problem as it felt like a cross between an adult novel and a young adult read.
The main character in The Swallows is actually an adult, Alexandra Witt, who has found herself in the position of needing a new teaching job. This brings Ms. Witt to Stonebridge Academy where after some odd negotiations she ends up with a job teaching creative writing and we as readers get our first glimpse into Stonebridge not exactly being a top ranked academy.
Now as our new teacher sulks into her new position she was not expecting she tosses a random writing prompt at her new class. Well, after being told that the assignment could/would be anonymous some of the students gave answers which lead their new teacher to being concerned with what goes one behind these walls.
Now, as I mentioned I struggled with not calling this one young adult with it being set in a school and then having a good portion of the point of view being handed to the students. It also had such a variety of characters in this story it never really became one I got overly connected to them either and would even mix the POV up even going back to adult. When finished this one ended up with an overall meh feeling somewhat burying it’s better parts.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling, Alex Award–winning author of the Spellman Files series, as well as the novels Heads You Lose (with David Hayward), How to Start a Fire, and The Passenger. She has also written for film and TV, including HBO’s The Deuce. She lives part-time in New York’s Hudson Valley.