May 22, 2018

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Tradition by Brendan Kiely | SLJ Review

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redstarKIELY, Brendan. Tradition. 352p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. May 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481480345.

Gr 9 Up –Traditions at Fullbrook Academy: seniors escort freshmen to the Winter Ball; hockey players stack a puck in their window for each sexual conquest; and rich kids rule. Jules Devereaux is in her final year at Fullbrook and she is done with ex-boyfriends, friends, and the insidious privilege of her exclusive boarding school. James Baxter is on a hockey scholarship, a “do-over” after a disaster, trying to do the next right thing, attempting to keep a low profile because of his past. The main characters’ inner lives are complex. Readers see James resisting the temptation of the pro-sports culture in the institution by refusing to take part in disturbing traditions. They also see Jules, steadfast in getting through to college, high performing one moment and confused the next about a nonconsensual sexual encounter. Boarding school is portrayed as a bastion of debauchery where no one is safe, but parallel characters form a diversified background to the story’s major players and contribute to an uplifting apex. Kiely’s treatment of sex, love, and friendship is thoughtful and relatable in spite of the backdrop, and the story ultimately delivers an enlightening message on consent. VERDICT A story that belongs in every library.–Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.




    I’ve loved Kiely’s other books that have been thoughtful portrayals of subjects that are burdened by the real and relevant experiences they are forced to overcome – looking forward to this one!

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