Initiation

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Overview

Mauricio Londoño's goal for his freshman year at St. Stephen's is simple: basic survival.

"I had no idea what could come of packing all those boys into one school building, how the competition would play out in relentless insults, the constant sorting-out that went on every day, all day, to determine who was okay and who was worthless."

Terrified and feeling like an uninvited guest at the all-boys St. Stephen's School, Mauricio Londoño sets his main goal for freshman year: basic...

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Initiation

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Overview

Mauricio Londoño's goal for his freshman year at St. Stephen's is simple: basic survival.

"I had no idea what could come of packing all those boys into one school building, how the competition would play out in relentless insults, the constant sorting-out that went on every day, all day, to determine who was okay and who was worthless."

Terrified and feeling like an uninvited guest at the all-boys St. Stephen's School, Mauricio Londoño sets his main goal for freshman year: basic survival. But despite his efforts to tiptoe through the school year, Mauricio can't resist the allure of the world inhabited by his precocious classmates and the drama that plays out on FaceSpace. When a cruel digital scheme sweeps through the school, Mauricio not only becomes one of its victims but also starts to think that maybe it's not so bad to be honest about who he really is.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Rollie Welch
Fine's novel brings to mind the canon of young adult literature set in wealthy all-male private schools, but it lands well short of classic novels A Separate Peace and The Chocolate War. Freshman Maurico Londono enters the snake pit of St. Stephen's School for Boys, a place he describes as the loudest and hottest private school in Manhattan. The young man senses old money is wrapped around his classmates and because his parents were not born in the United States, he is an outsider. Seasoned readers know problems arise from crowding rich, intelligent boys in a loosely supervised area. Early on there are hints of casualties involving five students. Maurico begins his journey of self-discovery as a simple observer. He is shocked by the students' quirky attitudes and blatant disrespect for authority. Soon he finds himself absorbed into the Tribal Brotherhood and joins the wrestling team. He is a weak 123-pound participant, and his few matches end in humiliating defeat. No matter, the guys usher him to an after-hours bonding session highlighted by an African drum and a huge bong. Maurico becomes obsessed with Elizabeth, a daughter of a fabulously wealthy family and twin of Maurico's freshman classmate Henry. Elizabeth has a wild streak and is known by all, but naive Maurico's fixation with the aloof girl never wavers. He is unwittingly used in an online blackmail scheme, and "casualties" hinted at by the author are the fallout. This coming-of-age story has underdog Maurico learning that the wealthy never get their hands dirty. Instead they let others take on nasty tasks. Readers want Maurico to triumph, but this flawed everyman seems destined to be the nice guy left out. Reviewer:Rollie Welch
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Mauricio Londoño, the child of immigrant parents, didn't know what he was getting into when he entered the hallowed halls of St. Stephen's, the premier all-boys school in New York City, as a freshman. Though shy and uncertain in the classroom, he's befriended by nerdy Alexander and wealthy, brilliant Henry, who help him navigate his new, confusing environs. But it's Zimmer, the guy who comes into class alternately hungover and decked out in bling, who confuses Mauricio the most. Seemingly despised by everyone at school, Zimmer's FaceSpace friend list nevertheless numbers in the hundreds and includes the very people who hate him. It's when a case of cyberbullying meets the moneyed that things get messy, and Mauricio finds himself caught in the middle, struggling to understand whom to trust. A more literary counterpart to Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series (Little, Brown), Initiation pays careful attention to the greater spectrum of students attending prestigious prep schools without playing to stereotypes. A supporting cast of female characters adds depth to the story; there's Henry's beautiful twin sister who piques Mauricio's interest in spite of their differences and a tough but inspiring English teacher. With a pitch-perfect teenage voice, alternating between poignant realizations and descriptions of bodily functions, Fine has crafted a book that has wide appeal for both genders.—Jennifer Barnes, Homewood Library, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738714660
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 5/8/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

After many years in New York City, Susan Fine said goodbye to Zabar’s and Grey’s Papaya in search of an affordable apartment. She, her husband, their two young boys, and 10,000 pieces of Lego landed in Chicago, where they love everything except the weather. When she isn’t reading The Dangerous Book for Boys, she’s working on her second novel. A former English teacher, Susan can still hear a me/I error from about a mile away. For assistance with sorting out the me/I conundrum, check out pages 110-113 in her first book Zen in the Art of the SAT.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by coollibrarianchick for TeensReadToo.com

    INITIATION, the debut offering by Susan Fine, follows Mauricio Londono through his first year at St. Stephens School for Boys. Mauricio, newly graduated, looks back and tells how he survived his first year. The cover of the book has a tie made into a noose on it. I know a lot of people who have gone to prep schools and from what I hear, the prep school arena is, in many aspects, survival of the fittest. Just as the GOSSIP GIRL series has drawn in the female reader, this book will draw in the male reader.

    High school can be tough. You've got academic pressure and, of course, you have to deal with social issues as well. It can be the best time of your life or it can be the worst.

    For Mauricio, the new boy at St. Stephens, it is a little bit of both. There is definite awkwardness as he navigates the hallways, classrooms, and social hierarchy of the school. He, as both the new kid and a freshman, is basically on the bottom rung. Mauricio learns very quickly that St. Stephens School for Boys is a very affluent school and rules that apply to most of the free world don't always apply to the boys here. Drugs, drinking, and casual hookups is nothing unusual.

    These boys, most of whom have known each other from the time they were in cribs, have their own set of rules and their own agendas. They have no problem setting people up and watching them fall. If scheming was offered as a course, I am sure that most of the boys at St. Stephens would pass with flying colors. They have the means and the intelligence. Technology allows these kids to take schemes to higher levels.

    For most of the book, Mauricio is in awe of the people who fall into the "haves" category. The huge apartments, summers in the Hamptons, jet-setting to this country or that country has a certain allure - especially when your upbringing is not even remotely on the same plane. Even though Mauricio doesn't want to get sucked into all the drama that unfolds around him, he can't help it since his raging hormones and heart's desire - Elizabeth - is smack dab in the middle of it.

    The question is, will he walk away unscathed and getting what he wants, or will he fall victim to the cruel games many teens at times play?

    After reading this book, all of sudden public school is a lot more desirable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    well.

    this book was alright. i guess. it was eh.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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