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The School For Dangerous Girls Hardcover – January 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Angela Cardenas's parents have had enough of her irresponsible and difficult behavior and, as a last resort, they send the teen to the Hidden Oak School for Girls, a boarding school in rural Colorado. There the girls are divided into two streams, those who can be rehabilitated—the gold thread, and those who can't—the purple thread. Gold thread girls get schooling and etiquette class, whereas purple thread girls are imprisoned underground. They brutally self-govern, are subjected to mistreatment, and resort to violence to survive. Instead of allowing herself to be convinced that she deserves the punishment she receives, Angela decides to find a way to close the school permanently. A romance with the son of a teacher and the discovery of mysterious deaths from when Hidden Oak was a boys' prep school add suspense; however, the plot becomes too muddled, with some holes, and the tension comes too late. Angela's character is complex and full of contradictions, but all of the adult characters are either vicious or clueless. The extended detail used to establish conditions at Hidden Oak is disproportionate to the quick resolution. The struggle and eventual triumph of the bad girls over the evil teachers makes for an intriguing conflict that many teens will appreciate; however, some may find the easy ending a disappointment. For more discussion of nature vs. nurture, suggest Catherine Jinks's Evil Genius (Harcourt, 2007).—Amy J. Chow, The Brearley School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

“What the hell kind of school has a blindfold as standard issue?“ Angela Cardenas discovers that blindfolds are not the only odd things about Hidden Oak boarding school. Supposedly a last-stop chance for rehabilitating “dangerous” girls, the school has an agenda that is not necessarily what it advertises. After having their possessions and clothing taken from them and uniforms issued, the freshmen spend the first month isolated from the rest of campus. As the month draws to a close, girls start to disappear one by one. Those who are redeemable are sorted into the gold thread; the others, Angela later learns, are sorted into the purple thread and are living a “Lord of the Flies” existence with little adult intervention. In an effort to save her friends, Angela decides to be really bad in hopes of getting moved to purple thread. Teens might behave dangerously themselves to get their hands on this page-turner with its commentary on education. Angela cautions, “You’re totally playing into their power system.” Rebecca replies, “Isn’t that how all schools work?” Grades 8-11. --Cindy Dobrez

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545035287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545035286
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,377,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ELIOT SCHREFER is a resident of New York City and an honors graduate of Harvard College. A contributor to The Huffington Post and a reviewer for USAToday, Eliot has been profiled in Newsweek, New York Magazine, the New York Post, WWD, and NPR's "Leonard Lopate Show." His first novel, Glamorous Disasters, became an international bestseller. He has since been writing for young adults. His books have been translated into Russian, Polish, Romanian, and German.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on February 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Angela Cardenas knows she's probably not the best or most well-behaved daughter out there. But then again, she's 15, her grandfather just died, and her parents are being completely mean and forcing her never to see her boyfriend, Trevor, again. It's tough being a girl.

Still, Angela's parents decide she has had enough chances, and they forcibly enroll her at Hidden Oak, a school for dangerous girls. When Angela arrives, she and the other new girls listen to one of the school's teachers explain the rules and mission statement behind Hidden Oak. The particularly haunting motto is, "You are your own worst enemy. And together we will defeat that enemy."

While the treatment of the girls during their "orientation" is horrible, Angela has little trouble finding her niche with a few girls: her roommate, Carmen, who is timid and shy; Riley, who seems to hate Angela but puts up with her anyway; and Juin, their half-French ringleader. Together, they form a "coven" and try to determine what is going on at Hidden Oak. But just as they're starting to figure some things out, girls from their orientation group start to disappear, and it isn't until Angela herself disappears that she realizes what's happening: the teachers are dividing them into dangerous girls who can be corrected and dangerous girls who cannot.

Of course, Angela must do a little detective work. Desperate to learn the history of the school and find out the fate of her cousin, Pilar, who has also attended, she just can't help getting on the bad side of some of the teachers, especially Mrs. Vienna, who seems to have a special vendetta reserved for Angela.

THE SCHOOL FOR DANGEROUS GIRLS is excellently crafted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sterghe VINE VOICE on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer had me hooked almost immediately. It begins by describing the difficult circumstance into which Angela--the main character--has gotten without explaining how or why she is in such a position. Aside from a few vague references to recent experiences and some excellent use of flashback, the reader basically knows that Angela has done--or everyone thinks she has done--something extremely bad, in every sense of the word. This has resulted in her parents' decision to send her to Hidden Oak, a school which claims to reform dangerous girls such as Angela. Of course, it becomes immediately apparent that all at Hidden Oak is not as it seems.

The characters were extremely realistic. I myself am a teenage girl, and the ways in which the female characters react to the tricky situations in this book seem reasonable. The rest of the characters in the book also seemed natural--as if this were based on a true story instead of complete fiction. The people in the book seemed real enough, if a little misguided sometimes.

The plot seemed slightly far-fetched at times, but it was so fascinating that it hardly seems worth worrying about such minor details. Schrefer did such an excellent job keeping interest levels high that the plot issues that might otherwise have been points of contention were unremarkable. The pacing is good and the plot twists were exceptional.

The setting itself presents an interesting plot twist. The history of Hidden Oak is so interesting that it alone could have provided enough material for the entire story. Add to this the very practical parts of a very old school--a noisy old heating system, crumbling old buildings, and the like--and the place seems very realistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I want to say that "The School for Dangerous Girls" is phenomenal, but I cannot. It IS exciting--so exciting I could hardly read fast enough. I am a very easy reader: I suspend disbelief with a slight of hand, but I cannot overlook gaping holes in the plot. I found myself thinking, Yes, but..., or No, that's not possible. But I digress.

Eliot Schrefer has written a winner for sure, if he does a little rewriting before his book goes to the House. Particulars he needs to address are several: the ease with which the girls escape their rooms and the campus; the liasons with the local live-in boy (a perfect set-up if there ever was one); the serious lack of knowledge the headmistress indicates; and those purple thread girls who apparently disappear so mysteriously.

Those are the flaws, but the story itself is just gorgeous! The best is having a Latina girl as the main character. Except for strictly Latina novels, I cannot recall a young adult novel in which a Latina was the narrative voice. Except for a few ethnic references, she could have been Any Culture. That was a winner for me.

The premise of the story is another plus. Sending difficult girls to a place of strict discipline to teach them how to move in the Mainstream is not an original idea, but it has possibilities. Fit here, you can fit "there," but still be yourself, is the modus operandi.

During the first month each girl is tested repeatedly in different ways to ascertain if she is gold thread quality (those who can attain successful behavior in the outer world) or purple thread (those continuously defiant ones). It's what happens with purple thread girls that creates the most problems for the novel. Why this treatment? How could the Headmistress possibly not know?
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