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The Year of the Gadfly Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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"Part Dead Poet's Society. Part Heathers. Entirely addictive."
“Harrowing, enchanting, and utterly original.”
"A darkly comic romp...vivid and very enjoyable."
"Engages and provokes."
—The Boston Globe
"There is a relentless authenticity in her prose...Miller effectively places here characters in a vice and squeezes the truth out of them."
"A smoldering mystery set in a New England prep school... The author skillfully ratchets up the tension as Iris (and the reader) finds it harder and harder to tell who the good guys are... A gripping thrill ride that’s also a thoughtful coming-of-age story."
-O Magazine"A coming of age page-turner."
—Library Journal"Hysterical and moving, The Year of the Gadfly fuses Special Topics in Calamity Physics with Portnoy's Complaint for girls. This book is an imaginative delight."
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story"A dark, whirling, and compelling read. The Year of the Gadfly is a hilarious and heartbreaking story about friendship, acceptance, and trust — the way our search for them shapes our youth and how that search can haunt us forever."
—Jennifer Close, author of Girls in White Dresses"This novel has so much going for it: the feisty, heartbroken heroine, the ghost of Edward R. Murrow, and a fascinating love story between an albino girl and a gifted young scientist. In a brilliant portrayal of the dark underbelly of adolescence, Miller explores a time when both our identity and our future are at stake, and shows how rare it is to leave that landscape unscathed."
—Ann Napolitano, author of Within Arm's Reach and A Good Hard Look "It's hard to resist any novel whose young journalist heroine hallucinates that she's in conversation with Edward R. Murrow. But Jennifer Miller has also written a book with the feel of real life—part science experiment, part mystery story, part a coming-of-age narrative sorting out the truth about one's friends and enemies."
—David Ignatius, author of Bloodmoney"Jennifer Miller is a writer of exceptional promise, with instincts that are equally astute for insight into character, innovative structure, memorable phrasing, and startling plot turns that compel the reader to read on. In The Year of the Gadfly, her literary gifts are on virtuoso display; readers will be drawn deeply into this narrative and never want to leave it!"
—Carol Goodman, author of The Lake of the Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water
From the Inside Flap
Do you know what it took for Socrates enemies to make him stop pursuing the truth?
Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom's Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.
Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devils Advocate, the Partys underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the schools new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her own troubled past.
The Year of the Gadfly is an exhilarating journey of double-crosses, deeply buried secrets, and the lifelong reverberations of losing someone you love. Following in the tradition of classic prep school novels such as A Separate Peace, Prep, and The Secret History, it reminds us how these years haunt our lives forever.
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...ok Ivy, I know, clichés!
Ivy Dupont, one of the novel's narrators, is a perfectly-developed character, a budding journalist searching for the truth (and some peace of mind). After her family moves her from Boston to the Berkshires, she finds herself immersed in a world of secret societies, love triangles, and mysteries spanning generations.
While the plot of the book was developed well, what really established this book were some of the other literary elements.
First, Miller's characterization was incredible. Besides the aforementioned Ivory, the reader is given incredible pictures and insights into her enigmatic teacher Jonah, the brooding Hazel, Lily, who once occupied her room, as well as a myriad of others.
Miller's use of figurative language was strong, and the subplots of the novel were well developed.
If there is a flaw, it is this: At times, I almost felt like I was in a writers' class, with workshops on the use of figurative language, and symbolic names, and multiple conflicts branching together. It is not that it was not well done; it's just that I've never felt so aware of these elements happening in a novel.
The book is worth a read for the characters alone, but the story is great as well.
The book is about surviving a competitive high school for Iris. For the other main characters, it's about an obsession with the past in the very same high school. While Iris is focused on securing her future in journalism at age 14, Jonah and Hazel are two adults who can't move on from their glory days at Mariana.
If you like page turning mysteries, preppy New England settings, and bold young female protagonists, this book is not to be missed. I am giving the book 4 stars because I didn't love the ending, but over all the book was a pleasure to read. I think this would make a great movie as well.
So here we have the lovely Iris enrolling in a prestigious boarding school. Iris is a little strange, certainly a gadfly. She is enamored of the deceased reporter, Edward R. Murrow. She has conversations with him. She wants to be a journalistic force at the school, revealing its secrets and strange qualities.
As at any prep school there is a pecking order. What Jennifer Miller does so well is vary the narration, letting us into the mind and world of Iris's favorite teacher, the rebel, Mr. Kaplan, her physics teacher. His story, told in his voice, shows us what Mariana Academy endured when he was a student as well as the coy, Lily. Their lives as teens have an impact on Iris's current quest.
Like "The Lake of Dead Languages" and "The Secret History," the school has much to hide. Miller entrances the reader with the intertwined lives of student and teacher, both gadflies. The secrets of the school lead to a smashing ending.
Miller shows an excellent sense of adolescent dialogue, interior monologue, and angst. High marks for Ms. Miller.