having a conference with my spiritual mentor, Edward R. Murrow. (And yes, I knew he'd been dead for forty-seven years, but why should a person limit here interlocutors to the living?) And because there was no "What To Do When Your Daughter Talks To Dead Journalists" chapter in the myriad self-help books my mom had been reading. she shipped me straight off to the good doctor...
I'd had a "very difficult year" (hardly breaking news to this reporter), and I needed a chance to heal. So off we went to my very own Magic Mountain.
Magic Mountain turns out to be a prep school with a storied past and plenty of secrets. Iris' science teacher, Mr. Kaplan, knows more than he lets on, and the house where the Duponts are staying harbors its own sad history. An underground newspaper and a secret society offer intrigue, danger, and a way for Iris to hone her investigative skills and find her footing.
Gadfly is a compelling mystery. It explores high school alienation themes quite capably and doesn't shy away from the uglier sides of exclusion and loss.
Iris is a smart and worthy protagonist. The poignant, funny, and true-to-life narrative kept me up all night on a transcontinental red-eye; mine was the only reading light lit for hours. I recommend it heartily.
Although the story centers around high school, it's worth mentioning that I wouldn't characterize it as YA fiction. It certainly could appeal to teens (and doesn't contain any "R-rated" elements that I can remember), but it's really just good fiction, period.
If you live in the US or Canada and would like to read The Year of the Gadfly, leave a comment with your own fiction recommendations, and random.org will choose a winner on Friday 5/25 at 11:59 PM. Good luck!
TLC for providing review and giveaway copies.