An Education in Ruin

Tor Teen. Jul. 2020. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250195951.
Gr 9 Up–Collins Pruitt is lucky. Her father, mega-rich investor Jacob Pruitt, was able to get her into the prestigious Rutherford Academy. Collins’s dad thinks she wants to attend Rutherford for the honor and the challenge of completing their rigorous academic program, but Collins has a different plan. Collins is actually at Rutherford at the behest of her Aunt Rosie in order to bring down Theo and Jasper Mahoney, the sons of the woman her father is having an affair with. As Collins inserts herself in Theo and Jasper’s social circle, full of gossip and backhanded compliments, she begins to get close to Jasper—tall, brooding, annoyingly talented Jasper—which threatens to derail her entire plan. The narrative delves right into the story, which may throw off some readers who may be left struggling to keep up with what is actually going on; the fact that the story is told with interspersing flash-forwards to the end of the school year when Collins’ plan comes to fruition may also lead to some confusion. Collins is an unreliable narrator, which in itself is not a problem, but she is not cunning or likable enough to root for or understand why she’s entangled in Aunt Rosie’s revenge plot, especially since Rosie is only mentioned in flashbacks. Collins also does not explain her actions, which may cause some readers to lose interest quickly. Race and ethnicity aren’t explicitly discussed, though the characters seem homogenous and one Japanese American character has almost no dialogue.
VERDICT Fans of E. Lockhart and Mindy McGinnis—or of boarding school fiction—might enjoy this, but will have to be willing to get past an unexciting narrator.

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