This is a Young Adult thriller, set in a super elite New York prep school. The characters are intriguing, four ultra competitive teenage “Crazy Rich Asians” plus Nancy, the main protagonist, the scholarship girl with a cleaning lady mother. She and her peers have no choice but to excel at everything. It’s been drummed into them since birth that there are no prizes for second place.
But their rarified world is overturned when Jamie is found dead, and the police are treating it as suspicious. Nancy and each of the three other friends in their circle all have secrets, all of which are motivations for wanting Jamie dead.
Enter the mysterious “Proctor”, an anonymous on-line presence who seems to know all of the four kids’ secrets, whose messages threaten to expose them all and thereby ruin their lives. And in so doing, Zhao shows just how deeply unhappy, pressured and troubled these children with perfect lives really are, which was her inspiration for writing the novel.
The tension builds as their attempts to identify the Proctor all fail and the threats intensify. One by one, secrets are exposed. Zhao teases the reader, implying that Nancy’s secret is truly shocking, something referred to as “The Incident”, but keeps the reader guessing until the finale what Nancy had been involved with two years previously.
The story threads are tied off in the story’s climax. However, like most thrillers, the motivation and actions are far-fetched.
Overall a fast and fun ride that can withstand being picked apart – as I just have.
Title: How We Fall Apart
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $16.99
Publication Date: 5 January 2022
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction
January 11, 2022 at 12:33AM Jo-Ann S