The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)

Sourcebooks/Fire. Mar. 2021. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781728220987. POP.
Gr 9 Up–When Moira, who is white and Jewish, gets a tattoo, it’s the last straw. Her parents can no longer cope with her depression, skipping school, and crossing NYC at midnight to visit her best friend’s grave. They send her to The Castle School in Maine, which enrolls 12 girls who cope with issues including cutting, kleptomania, and anorexia. Moira finds it strange, without technology or classes, and with regular therapy sessions with Dr. Prince. Is this a psychological experiment? Even so, Moira knows she deserves the punishment for how her friend Nathan died…doesn’t she? Interstitial chapters explore the other girls’ stories as well. Sheinmel delves deep into the complexities of Moira’s mind: her obsessive friendship with Nathan, and her guilt, crushing grief, and failure to understand the motivations of those seeking to help. Through the year Moira starts thinking more about her life, as well as those of her diverse and unexpected new friends. The book’s main message is: “Maybe there is…no right thing. Maybe there’s only the effort of trying to get it right.” All character development is complex and layered, and sensory details create a strong sense of the place that plays a significant role in Moira’s growth. Hand this to readers who need to know there’s no right way to grieve—or to move forward after grief.
VERDICT This boarding school story offers a heartfelt exploration of grief, guilt, and recovery. The complex, distinct characters and strong sense of place will give it wide appeal.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing