Read an Excerpt
Jet Set RB/SB
Imagine a school with endless gilded hallways that rival Versailles. A chandelier-filled dining room with a painted ceiling that echoes the Sistine Chapel. Thirty-foot-high arches as you walk into the mahogany library. Priceless collections of rare books and illuminated manuscripts. Art worthy of the Louvre. Marble from the rarest quarries. Picture a majestic castle nestled into a lush green mountainside next to a glistening river, and inside it students hailing from around the globe.
It ain't Hogwarts, people. It's my new school: the elite Van Pelt Academy in Switzerland. And while there aren't wizards, wands, or dragons, there is plenty of magic...the storied history of generations of royal alumni, a network of global power hatched from friendships struck at age fifteen, and an air of mystery that shrouds this private school that is, without a doubt, the Who's Who of the world.
My classmates are a kaleidoscope of the world's aristocracy. The son of a Russian coal tycoon, the daughter of the deposed king of Italy, an Indian princess, a Texas oil billionaire's son, the son of an Arab emir, a jewelry house heir, a fashion empire scion, and so on. I don't know how to say the phrase "over the top" in Latin, but if I could, I would have nominated that to be the school's motto. Families had decorators flown in during the summer to design their children's rooms before September's arrival day, which was today, my first day of tenth grade. There were personal porters with piles of Vuitton steamer trunks, safes on dollies, and standing garment racks (lest the couture frocks get wrinkled accordion style in a suitcase).
Do Isound bitter? I wasn't, hand to God, I swear...I knew I was truly blessed beyond measure to be here. I just felt a tad pauperish given the illustrious backgrounds of my fellow students. Take the school store, for instance. Yours may have pens, paper, letter sweaters, the like. We had a huge glass-domed room like a London gallery, filled with booth after booth of satellite stores... a mini Chanel, Versace, Vuitton, Tiffany (and others I had never heard of )...all with bursar billing so some dynastic darling could scribble her signature, charge a fur vest to Daddy, and be off to enjoy her new purchases. So, as you can tell, it's not your normal institution. I mean, New England prep schools may be fancy, but they don't have 300-count sheets or maid service. Or room service. Or dry-cleaning service. If you went to some ivy-covered Massachusetts institution and you happened to get hungry late at night? It's called a vending machine, people. Van Pelt has a leather-bound hotel-style menu in every dorm room, listing every food you could ever dream up. Too bad there wasn't much I could afford on it. . . . I was offered a small monthly stipend with my full scholarship, but it wasn't enough to keep me afloat in this Monopoly land. People don't even bother to lock their doors here because they're all so rich, why would they need to steal anything?
Safes are provided for all the royal jewels, of course. Let me clarify how I fit into this picture. My dad is a lifelong military man, which means my family has constantly moved from place to place. But I have always been the Good Girl who did what she was told and adapted seamlessly. Being the dreaded "new girl" at school wasn't actually that bad for me; I generally thrived in academic environments, and I always had the structure of a team sport with my tennis playing. Killing on the tennis courts has been a huge feather in my Nike visor. I had just started ninth grade when I knew I couldn't move again. I desperately wanted roots. I had been playing scholastic hopscotch too long, and my parents had promised me that I could go away to boarding school . . . if I could get myself a scholarship. I browsed catalogs for schools in the United States dotting the Eastern Seaboard from Connecticut to New Hampshire.
But something about being so far away from my family kept me from filing my applications and writing my essays, which wasn't like me. I'd never been much of a procrastinator and had gotten straight As, geek style, pretty much since they started giving grades, albeit in check-minus/check/check-plus form. I knew thiswould be a huge decision, and I was agonizing over where to apply when I was walking down the street in my most recent hometown (Munich) and bumped into the older sister of a friend from my school in Spain. She had just graduated from Van Pelt and raved about it with stars in her eyes, saying wistfully thoseyears had been the best years of her life.
Hmm . . . a boarding school where I could stay for three straight years and be on the same continent as my family? I knew of a few in England but they were all single sex and supposedly all legacies. Intrigued, I logged on to the website to register my request for an application. I was emailed back a password for the private pages of the website so I could surf the myriad images of Prince William look-alikes dressed formally for class and brandishing stacks of old books, even switching to the famed Gstaad campus for the winter term, where instruction is in the morning so students can ski in the afternoon. For real. How many schools in the world switch campuses midyear to accommodate choice slalom time? One. Mine. Yeah . . . crazy. But what really attracted me was the image of row after row of tennis courts.
They had cement courts, they had clay courts, but most important of all: grass courts. The rarely seen nature's courts were the definition of high maintenance, with thrice daily mowings that made a golf course look overgrown. In all my life I had never played on grass. It had been a dream of mine, and I couldn't imagine going to a school where they would be readily available to me. I was sold. My parents were sold, my dad especially, who was determined that I get a top education and go to a top school. He thought Van Pelt was a great idea. I just needed to sell the school.Jet Set RB/SB
. Copyright © by Carrie Karasyov. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.