The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Posted by Caitie F on December 5, 2012
Summary from goodreads:
Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom’s Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.
Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil’s Advocate, the Party’s underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school’s new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter’s instinct, and her own troubled past.
Once this book got moving, it became one of those books that is so hard to put down. Luckily, I know that I need to sleep, so I didn’t stay up all night earlier this week to finish it. But I really wanted to.
I had a feeling I would really like this book. It has all the ingredients for a really good book: a prep school with over-achieving rich kids that is in the middle of a mystery that is over a decade old, a teacher trying to make things better while both hiding and reconnecting with his past, and a troubled young woman thrown into the middle of a huge mystery and trying to do the right thing while also being true to herself and her life goals.
The story is told from three different perspectives, which makes the mystery element more intriguing. Once you think you may have figured out something from one perspective, there is something from another that shows how you were completely wrong. This is especially true with everything in Lily’s perspective. I so wanted Iris to find out how it really was for Lily and to understand her more. Did she do some things wrong? Yes, she was a teenager. But she was also the ultimate victim of peer pressure and cruelty.
The various perspectives also make things obvious to the reader that the characters cannot know since they only see things from one side. It worked very well in this case as the reader knows that a character is getting themselves into a bad situation. It made me want to yell out “No! Don’t go in there!”.
This is a wonderful book with so many great qualities. If you like mysteries and coming-of-age stories, this is a book for you!