The pseudonymous Jackson (an "acclaimed short story writer and novelist") plumbs the lives of those who pace the halls at New York City's exclusive Griffin School in this accomplished novel. Varied in age and income bracket, the cast is finely drawn if familiar: Julianne Coopersmith, a middle-class teen with an overprotective mother, attends Griffin on scholarship; Morgan Goldfine, Julianne's best friend whose mother recently died, is awash in grief; Michael Avery, Julianne's boy wonder boyfriend, is Harvard bound; and Kathryn "Lazy" Hoffman, Griffin's headmistress, is having a professionally verboten affair with a teacher. Cracks form in Julianne and Michael's relationship after Michael shows signs of mental instability, though Julianne's loathe to give up on him, even when his symptoms hint at violent tendencies. Morgan mopes her way through the school year, and Julianne's mother strikes up an unlikely friendship with Michael's mother. Kathryn's affair, predictably, becomes public knowledge, sparking domestic and professional upheaval. If the plot packs few surprises, Jackson's rendering of relationships both toxic and positive, filial and friendly is flawlessly executed as she flits from social strata to social strata. The similarity in cover art between this novel and Prep isn't for nothing. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Sophie Brookover
This pseudonymous satire of a constellation of upper-crusty Manhattan teens, their elite private high school, and their parents skewers all the expected topics-the bubble of wealth and privilege, the brand obsession, the fixation on getting into just the right college. But the novel reveals a surprisingly tender heart at its center. Two characters ring particularly true: Julianne, a scholarship student in love with Michael, her brilliant but increasingly unhinged boyfriend; and Kathryn, nicknamed Lazy, the school's adulterous headmistress, who is at the end of her rope finessing the petty dramas of her students and their parents' ever-more-absurd demands. As Michael's bipolar disorder worsens, so does his treatment of Julianne, and yet she stays with him, for reasons that are at once clichTd and believable. The portrayal of an emotionally abusive relationship is hauntingly realistic. Likewise Lazy's downward spiral of shame, guilt, and frayed nerves results in a believable denouement: She confesses her affair to her loving, steadfast husband, and receives with some relief the news that her contract with the Griffin School will not be renewed. Jackson's fine, brittle prose boasts both the best and the worst that satire has to offer: deliciously zingy "gotcha!" moments that slash deeply at the snobby, hypocritical heart of this world of privilege as well as an inability to believably sustain that lively, incensed tone throughout. Fans of Curtis Sittenfield's Prep (Random House, 2005/VOYA August 2005) and readers several degrees of sophistication above Gossip Girls are likely audiences for this crossover title.
VOYA - Emily Polatsek
For the first chapter or so of Posh I wasn't very impressed. As I got deeper into it, I started to realize that not only did this book have high-quality writing, but it also centered on important issues in the relationships of teens and adults. Julianne deals with her needy and bipolar boyfriend, Morgan tries to cope with her mother's death, and Lazy pursues an affair with a fellow teacher-all topics that the author deals with in a great way by expressing the character's emotions with an extremely realistic style that can choke you up a little bit. I know I certainly believed and could relate to Julianne's relationship with her mother. On a negative note, I wasn't so sure about some of the other characters such as Michael because who knows many eighteen-year-olds who recite poetry off the top of their heads? Overall I thought that this book had a lot more depth than first may have been perceived, especially if you're reflecting on it after you've finished.
An exclusive New York school catering to the rich and powerful, who feel that their children's enrollment is one step toward an Ivy League college, Griffin is the sort of place that allows jaded staff and parents to transmit their troubles to teenagers; here, every drama is amplified. The beleaguered principal, Kathryn "Lazy" Hoffman, contends with school scandals, demanding parents, and her own illicit affair with an English teacher. Meanwhile, scholarship student Julianne is caught in a devastating relationship with her bipolar boyfriend, Michael, much to the dismay of Julianne's mother, Dee, a failed novelist who drives a taxi. Dee forms an unlikely bond with Michael's emotionally distant mother, who pays more attention to her dog, named Boyfriend, than to her own son. Jackson handles the relationship between Michael and his mother with honesty and sensitivity, but the story line seems at odds with the satirical tone of the chapters focusing on Lazy. In particular, a distasteful subplot involving a Saudi prince attending the school falls flat. Jackson is the pseudonym of a noted fiction writer; for larger public libraries.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
This novel about the members of an elite school community is told from multiple viewpoints. "Lazy" Hoffman, headmistress at the prestigious Griffin School in New York City, is having an affair with one of the teachers, despite the fact that she has a prince of a husband. Julianne is a scholarship student whose mother, Dee, is a former novelist who now drives a cab. Julianne's boyfriend, Michael, is the perfect Griffin student-brilliant and Harvard-bound-but also a victim of bipolar disorder. Michael's mother, Susan, seems to care more about her dog than her son. And Julianne's best friend, Morgan, has just lost her mother to cancer. The school year progresses, and each of these situations develops, the most painful of which is the relationship between Julianne and Michael. She feels that she is the only one who understands him, and that she must not, under any circumstances, let him down. The relationship is doomed to end tragically, and it does. There are not any major surprises here, but the book is well written, and the characters are appealing. Some of the themes (and even the title and cover art) are reminiscent of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep (Random, 2005). Like that book, this novel presents more of an adult than a teen view of high school life, but it will nevertheless appeal to teens, with its strong rendering of the major relationships and its fast pace, aided by lots of dialogue and a smattering of e-mail exchanges.
Sarah FlowersCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The classrooms and boardrooms of an elite Manhattan prep school are plumbed for plot and pathos. Troubles are piling up for Kathryn "Lazy" Hoffman, headmistress of Griffin School, grades K-12. She just turned 43, a fact of life she's dismayed about. She's not allowed to smoke in her office, which she perceives as an affront to her authority. She feels guilty about cheating on her loving husband with one of Griffin's teachers, the handsome, WASP-y Doug McNamee, who calls her his "Jewish Princess." Even worse, it's "early admission notification time," so students' mothers are threatening suicide if their offspring are not admitted to Harvard or Yale. Finally, the mother of senior Morgan Goldfine, a generous benefactor to Griffin, succumbs after a long battle with cancer. Somehow Lazy has to transport 99 students to the funeral. Lazy isn't the only member of the Griffin community with tribulations, however. In alternating short chapters, four other main characters reveal their plights: Julianne, the go-to friend of troubled teens, who not only has her grief-stricken best friend Morgan to console but must also reassure Michael, her increasingly paranoid, handsome, intelligent, bi-polar and off-his-meds boyfriend, of her undying love; Julianne's mother Dee, the author of seven critically acclaimed, minimally sold novels who now drives a cab and watches helplessly as Julianne gets drawn into Michael's madness; Susan, Michael's mother, an aloof society matron whose greatest pleasure is sewing costumes for Boyfriend, her Chinese Crested Hairless dog, and who has no idea how to cope with her son; and Morgan, who sends late-night emails into the ether, hoping that her mother will reply. As richer,more powerful egos threaten these flawed but sincere heroines, each woman must come to terms with her own choices. This sweet but thin academic tattle-tale by Jackson, the pseudonym for, according to the publisher, an "acclaimed short story writer," fails to punish the wicked or reward the just.