The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
We start out in the eighth grade and then skip towards senior year, where there are many alternating POC that are struggling high school students, naive and fresh to the adult world. In my mind, our narrator is Molly, an English high school teacher who observes her students maybe too closely, Calista (Cally) is a hippie teenager who was transformed after a suicide that she and her fellow classmates were complicit in, Nick a kind of "bad boy" who is a wild-child, Emma a fabulous dancer and parties all weekend, and Dave the serious student who strives for to meet his parents expectations.
Starting out with these character types, you might be skeptical, as I have been with these stereotypes card-board cutout descriptions, but I feel like there is a deep emotional connection that can be formed with each of these characters, especially since I am in the teenage group. The deep themes in this book transcends all ages, including topics such as love, heartbreak, sorrow, passion, loss, and more.
Another thing is some deep character study, of flaws and powerful strengths. The author explores teenager all across the spectrum of what's expected of them and the separation or "popular' and "unpopular" and stereotypes of "goody little two shoes" and "bad boys". The author has a talent for writing this type of thing in a slow and subtle way. Don't expect some shocking plot twists or high-stakes games, it was a consistent look at the humanity and various phases that teenagers go through, and how they're trying to fit themselves in the "adult" world.
My only qualms with this is that sometimes it over-dramatizes the situations that can happen in high school. It seems that the author like to take the worst possible instances and blows them up by their characters and teachers reaction. At times, I felt like there was some unrealistic portrayal or how the daily life in high school actually is-hint: for me it was boring and quiet-. Although I know that the relatability depends on your personal high school experience, but I felt like sometimes the author overdid it, or over-reached.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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