Charlotte Ryder is from a modest working-class family, yet attends St. Anne’s, a private New England boarding school. After helping Julia Buchanan, a classmate from an infamous Massachusetts family, during a late-night drunken escapade, Charlotte—soon dubbed Charlie by Julia—is pulled into the complicated Buchanan orbit, even falling for Julia’s handsome older brother Sebastian. The girls quickly become inseparable, and Charlie is invited to spend the summer in Arcadia, the Buchanan compound on Nantucket. The Buchanans all but adopt Charlie as one of their own, but they also expect Charlie to help protect Julia from herself—a tall order given that Julia is unpredictable and still grieving the death of her older sister. Debut author Philpot’s prose is eloquent and suspenseful as readers watch Charlie get swept up in the glamour, privilege, and charm of Julia and her family. While readers know early on that Charlie’s relationship with the Buchanans is headed for a fall, they’ll be as entranced as she is by this beguiling, Kennedy-esque family, for whom power and pain are inextricably entwined. Ages 13–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)
A Teen Vogue Best YA Book You Should Read This Fall “If you’re a certain kind of reader, there’s a very good chance you have both Gossip Girl and The Great Gatsby on your bookshelf. Even in Paradise belongs right in the middle of the two.
Fluid, nimble prose, lush descriptive passages, and a tenderly nostalgic plot.
Poignant and enigmatic.
This intriguing and beautifully written-novel has it all—love, loss, friendships, secrets, and that startling concept that one mistake can change the course of your life forever.
An homage to Brideshead Revisited that reverently paints the rush and the melancholy of the original, while reinventing itself brilliantly for mature young adult readers. A striking coming-of-age debut.
A wealthy family draws in an outsider, dazzling her with their ritzy parties and glamorous lifestyle. Underneath it all, a troubling secret lurks.” (in the article “10 Books for Fans of We Were Liars“)
Gr 9 Up—Julia Buchanan is an enigma with a famous name—thanks to her father, a former senator. When she arrives at St. Anne's boarding school in her junior year, the other students observe her from a distance, assuming they know everything about her because of what they've heard. Charlotte Ryder, a scholarship student, doesn't even give much thought to Julia until a random act of kindness brings them together. The girls quickly form the kind of close friendship that, to the outside world, looks like they're falling in love. An artist who collects objects to remind her of special moments, Charlotte savors every second she spends with Julia. Being Julia's best friend introduces her to a new normal: sneaking out of the dorms at night, spending summers in Nantucket, and keeping dark secrets. As Charlotte spends more time with Julia and the rest of the Buchanans, she begins to love them all as though they were her own family, and they come to rely on her to keep Julia from falling apart. There is tragedy in the Buchanan past, and Charlotte's need to know the truth—and her growing feelings for Julia's older brother, Sebastian—threaten to disrupt a delicate balance. Philpot's debut is a mournful meditation on the intensity of love in all its forms: familial, platonic, and romantic. Inspired by Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the text blends elements from these novels to create something that is a modern romance and classic tragedy. Readers who enjoy deep explorations of emotions and human frailty will relish this work.—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City
This readable boarding school story feels quite familiar. Charlotte is a relative nonentity at her exclusive New England boarding school, with a small circle of friends and an average existence. That all changes when a drunk Julia Buchanan throws up underneath her dorm window and Charlotte helps her. Part of a blatantly Kennedy-esque family, Julia is charming and witty, although the French phrases she flings about may irritate readers as much as they seem to exasperate Charlotte. But there is also a dark neediness to Julia, one that troubles Charlotte even as she becomes part of Julia's world and family. Charlotte becomes Charlie, finding herself frequently invited to the Buchanan compound on Nantucket, given expensive gifts and even falling for Julia's older brother, Sebastian. But the Buchanans are all haunted by the death of the family's oldest daughter, Augustine. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about Augustine's death and Julia's involvement in it—a discovery that feels calculated and without surprise instead of the other way around—it ends her time in paradise. Combining elements of The Great Gatsby and Looking for Alaska (both conspicuously cited in the publicity), the novel doesn't offer much that's original. Yet Philpot constructs some interesting minor characters and has a fluid, easy style, one that would shine through with a story more her own. Here's hoping Philpot's sophomore outing sees this promise realized. (Mystery. 14-18)