The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents’ expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public: postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was really solid!
I really enjoyed the format of this book. It alternates POV, with one POV following a new teacher in her first year teaching high school and the other POV following one of the students in said high school. You get to see the different students from their perspective as well as that of their peers. I thought it worked really well and moved along the plot. You can intuit what happens between the different POVs, and I thought it was really well done.
I also liked the array of students. There were popular students, unpopular students, the pretty girl who everyone admires but has no friends, the student everyone thinks is smart, the hippies, the dancer, etc. I really enjoyed seeing each of their perspectives and thought they were really interesting. None of them really left a major lasting impression, except maybe the pretty girl, but I can’t remember her name at the moment (Elizabeth, maybe?). I liked how her POV explored why she guards herself, and how subtly feminist her bit was. I also liked the explorations of friendship that happened in some of the POVs.
I definitely enjoyed the student chapters more than the teacher chapters, but I didn’t think her chapters were a waste. I thought it was an interesting and necessary perspective, and I liked seeing her development as well.
Of course, everything was a little over-the-top, and if there’s something that can go wrong, it will happen. But, nothing was over-dramatic, I thought. It all felt very realistic. The students’ reactions to everything felt very realistic, as well.
The one major unrealistic part to me, which is fairly small but still annoyed me, was how Facebook was used. The way it was described by the author made it seem as if the students are posting everything and talking about everything openly on Facebook. This might have been true in 2010, but is far less true in 2019 (or 2018, when this book was published). The current generation of high schoolers don’t even have Facebook most of the time. So that part felt a bit out of touch. But, again, that’s fairly minor and didn’t really impact my enjoyment, and was also necessary at times to push the plot forward.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you want an interesting, fairly easy read that still deals with heavy topics.
But those are just my thoughts! Have you read this? What were your thoughts? Do you plane on reading it? Let me know!