For Your Own Good

Berkley. Jul. 2021. 384p. Tr $27. ISBN 9780593100974.
From the very first line, Downing draws readers into the unsettling and atmospheric setting of her latest thriller. At Belmont Academy, most of the students and faculty are rich; they give little thought to how things are outside their bubble. But not Teacher of the Year Teddy Crutcher. He knows how things should be, and he won’t let little things like the death of a parent or a fellow teacher get in the way of his vision. Readers who enjoy high-stakes thrillers will find much to enjoy here. Every time readers think they know what’s happening, Downing introduces a new character or another twist. The story is told from the perspective of multiple characters, which helps increase the tension in the novel as characters reveal conflicting information about what is happening. The ending weaves together the many threads Downing tangled together throughout the novel, and the final line leaves readers with the disturbing feeling that this is not the end of Belmont’s issues. There is, unfortunately, some fatphobia and ableism. The book would have been stronger without these elements.
VERDICT An unsettling and twisty thriller that deals with entitlement, revenge, and the lies we tell ourselves; readers who enjoy Tiffany Jackson, Karen McManus, and Holly Jackson will find a lot to love in this book.

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