Starting out in the world of a performing arts high school we follow two young people, Sarah and David, as they navigate teenage love and high school in the 80s. Their teacher is a former Broadway performer and treats them more as adults than teenagers (problematic at best). Suddenly there’s a break in this story and the perspective shifts to current day and the point of view of Karen, one of the classmates of Sarah and David. There’s an explanation for this dramatic shift, and once I figured it out, it made a lot of sense. Through Karen we learn what happened to the class since they graduated from high school, and how much we can believe about what we read. There’s a reunion of sorts that has an intense climax and…..we shift to a third perspective. We are now in the future and we are learning even more about the truth of what we have read in the first two sections.
Still with me?
This was a crazy read because of all the perspective shifting. This is very much an artisitic read. For that I give Ms. Choi a lot of credit. It definitely exercised a lot of literary muscles that I haven’t used since grad school. At the same time it was a difficult read. I read for escapism, not to be challenged. I also don’t like reading about educational settings, since that’s my daily experience. It’s especially hard for me to get into a book where teachers are abusing and exploiting their position and, in this book, the students. There’s a lot of trauma that’s revealed throughout the book and a lot of it at the hands of adults.
I don’t know that I would recommend this for a book club or personal reading unless you like novels with twist and turns, multiple perspectives and timelines, and vague denouements that leave a lot of room for interpretations.