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The Other New Girl: A Novel Paperback – September 26, 2017
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Overall, this is a deftly constructed coming-of-age story with well-drawn characters and the narrative momentum of a thriller. Gschwandtner (Carla’s Secret, 2013, etc.) is a gifted storyteller who ably balances the past and present throughout the novel and never puts a foot wrong. A potent exploration of youth, innocence, and the abuse of authority. ―Kirkus Reviews
“'We swim in the soup we've made,' the protagonist of LB Gschwandtner’s compulsively readable novel, The Other New Girl,, observes. The ingredients of this dark and disturbing coming-of-age novel include adolescent cruelty, religious hypocrisy, and the sadder-but-wiser perspective of the adult who dares to look back. Gschwandtner asks the question 'Do we ever really get over high school?' Like me, other readers may ponder that question for themselves as they race through this harrowing and heartbreaking tale of the after-effects of power misused. I was riveted." ―Wally Lamb, author of six New York Times best-selling novels, including I’ll Take You There, We Are Water, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much is True, and She’s Come Undone, and was twice selected for Oprah’s Book Club
“A coming-of-age story, woven with the pace of a thriller. The protagonist is wonderfully relatable, her wise but somewhat salty outlook appeals to the outsider in us all. The prose is fresh while we reminisce with the characters; we learn from them as they reveal their navigation of adolescent rites of passage, Quaker philosophy, bullying, and young love. A nuanced and satisfying read.” ―Eileen Dougharty, story performer and writer
"LB Gschwandtner has created a complex tale of loyalty and betrayal, of youthful alliances and conflicts, and the incredible tension between doing the right thing, and protecting one's sense of self. Susannah Greenwood is not the newer girl; Moll Grimes is. And their relationship, the way this story builds in a setting fraught with the moral and strict demands of both their peers, the stringent Dean, Miss Bleaker, and their own hearts, makes for a fine, moving story." ―Robert Bausch, author of Far as The Eye Can See and The Legend of Jesse Smoke
“This is the work of a master storyteller who introduces the reader to well-drawn characters, and brings the narrator’s moral dilemma to a stunning climax.” —Lary Bloom, non-fiction writer, writing teacher, and co-founder of Writing at the Mark Twain House.
“Unlike many books that tease with the promise of what’s to come, LB gives it to us up front. Her story takes place in a co-ed Quaker boarding school where students are often left to flounder before coming up for a gulp of the narrator's rarified air. The girls’ dean, Miss Bleaker, knows all and sees all―or does she?” ―Suzanne Levine, poet, author of Haberdasher's Daughter and Eric Hoffer Award finalist
About the Author
LB Gschwandtner is the author of four adult novels, one middle-grade novel, and one collection of quirky short stories. She has attended numerous fiction writing workshops―the Iowa Writers Workshop and others―and studied with Wally Lamb, Lary Bloom, and Suzanne Levine in Praiano, Italy and Fred Leebron and Bob Bausch in the US. She has won writing awards in Writers Digest and Lorian Hemingway fiction competitions and been published in literary digests and magazines. She lives on a tidal creek in Virginia with her husband of forty-five years, with whom she cofounded the multimedia company Selling Power Inc. LB has been the editor of Selling Power magazine for more than thirty years. She and her husband have three adult daughters and two grandchildren.
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Part coming-of-age story and part suspense novel, this narrative of Susannah Greenwood's sophomore semester at a Quaker prep school will keep you riveted until the very end.
Touching on subjects such as choices and consequences, the abuse of religious power, trust, spiritual awakening, teen angst, continuity of life, personal growth, peer pressure, bullying, and more, this book will have you pondering your own teen years and the secrets you may have held close.
It has been two days since I finished reading and I still have a sense of unease. My own teen years were anxiety filled and Susannah's relationship with her mother touched a bit too close to home. I could weep for her... and myself. This is a story I will chew on for quite awhile.
In the author's acknowledgements, she thanks Wally Lamb for being a mentor and model. I laughed and blurted out "Ah HA!" This is same feeling I had after reading She's Come Undone in my 20's. I would also compare my residual emotions to those I had after finishing Heidi Durrow's A Girl That Fell From The Sky... yet another GIRL book that I have carried in my heart for years.
The Other New Girl is a finalist in the USA BEST BOOK AWARDS for 2017. Grab a copy for yourself and see why.
As always, I leave you with a quote (or two) and thoughts to ponder...
"... we carry with us the composite of all the relationships we've ever had. We can no more rid ourselves of them than we can harness the glow of the moon. If it's true that the spirit is within each of us, maybe God resides in all the bits and pieces of others that we've incorporated into ourselves." - The Other New Girl: A Novel by L.B. Gschwandtner
"You don't see crazy in animals or insects or birds. They do their thing -- eat, bathe, drink, procreate, care for their young. When it's time to die, they go quietly." - The Other New Girl: A Novel by L.B. Gschwandtner
challenges in her first few months at a new school. The Quaker religion provides the moral structure for the plot. Susanna's nasty mother is like an unseen but clearly present figure in her mind. A very satisfying read.
In The Other New Girl, Moll, a brilliant but nerdy social outcast, is encouraged by her only friend Susannah to overcome her fears enough to get her courage up to the point where she can attend a school dance. She works hard on looking right, trying SO hard to fit in, and finally overcomes her anxiety and fear enough to get herself there. But then (in what I thought might become a Carrie moment), she experiences bullying that is so hurtful to her that she decides to take extreme action as she desperately wants to find out who she wants to be. As her actions and disappearance reverberate throughout the school (especially for Susannah), the book explores themes of loyalty, obedience to authority, friendship, and betrayal.
Not exactly a mystery or a thriller or a coming of age story, it is all three! It is a very compelling read that is extremely well done, with realistic characters, dialogue, and situations (even for those of us who haven’t been to a private boarding school in the East). With thanks to NetGalley and She Writes Press, this one gets five stars—and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Gschwandtner’s work.