A tumultuous and often hilarious first novel about one year of insanity at the Ivy-like Devon University, a blissful bubble of elite students and the adults at their mercy.
Eph Russell is an English professor up for tenure. He may look and sound privileged, but Eph is right out of gun-rack, Bible-thumping rural Alabama. His beloved Devon, though, has become a place of warring tribes, and there are landmines waiting for Eph that he is unequipped to see. The cultural rules are changing fast.
Lulu Harris is an entitled freshman—er, firstyear—from Manhattan. Her singular ambition is to be a prominent socialite – an “It Girl.” While most would kill for a place at Devon, to her college is a dreary impediment. She is pleasantly surprised to find some people she can tolerate in the Fellingham Society, a group of self-professed campus monarchists. When things become socially difficult, Lulu is forced to re-channel her ambition in a most unexpected way – as a militant feminist. In the process, she and Eph will find their fates at odds.
Also in the mix is Red Wheeler, who is in his seventh year at Devon, and is carefully managing his credits to stay longer. As the alpha dog atop Devon’s progressive hierarchy, Red is the most “woke” guy on campus. But when his position is threatened, he must take measures.
All paths collide in a riotous climax. Campusland is a timely and gleeful skewering of the modern American campus and its tribal culture.
“D’Arcy!” Milton cried from his office.
Campusland by Scott Johnston
I was eager to read Campusland after reading the blurb. I thought that it was going to be a comedy mixed with today’s social issues. For the most part, that is what I got. But there were certain parts of Campusland where I felt the author was trying too hard. And it was those parts of the book that made it fall short for me.
Campusland is the story of Devon University and the year of upheavals that it endures. Caught in the middle of everything is Eph Russell, an English professor trying to make tenure. He is also trying to make it through the year. Lulu is a first-year who has aspirations to become an Instagram star and a socialite. Instead, she is attending Devon University and hating it. Red, in his seventh year at Devon, is the top social activist on campus. His activities have been limited to small protests. When he is threatened, Red takes drastic measures, which affect Eph and Lulu in ways that they can’t imagine. What will happen when all paths collide? What will happen?
Like I mentioned above, I was excited to read Campusland. I enjoy reading about social issues that are affecting today’s youths (holy crap, I sound so old here!!). The events that happen at Devon University have been ripped, for the most part, from the headlines. As I got into the book, though, I started to feel a disconnect from Campusland.
I did feel sorry for Eph. He was the real victim in this book. He got no say to defend himself from every accusation that was brought against him. Instead, there was an internal investigation. The internal investigation was biased because the woman running it was hell-bent on proving him guilty.
I couldn’t stand Lulu. From the moment she appeared in the book, I disliked her. She was a self-centered, spoiled brat with kleptomaniac tendencies. Everything she did was to promote her brand, which disgusted me later on in the book.
I also didn’t like Red. At first, he came across as one of those stoner activists. But as the book went on, he became more and more devious. His activism became almost militant. I was waiting with bated breath to see if he would leave the book.
I did enjoy seeing what a glimpse into what college is like today. When I was in college, there was nothing like the groups that were shown. Or if there was, they stayed well underground and out of the spotlight.
I was relieved when I finished Campusland. I thought that the author tried too hard to form the characters into stereotypes. While there was humor in the book, the humor felt forced. I will say that the ending of Campusland was interesting. But I didn’t think that the ending was appropriate. I can’t get into it but what Lulu and Red ended up going on to do didn’t make me happy.
I would give Campusland an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would not reread Campusland. I would not recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Terry Keys, USA Today bestselling author of Lie No More and The Missing pens his most captivating book to date. This is the heart-breaking story about a small-town boy who’d taken everything from everyone until he could take no more.
Seventeen-year-old Blaze Planter is a Jr. at Kilwade, High School. His parents have recently divorced. His grades are slipping. His anger is growing with each day. Relationships with his closest friends are failing. Secrets about his life are being uncovered. No one understands what he is going through. And everyone who has betrayed him needs to be taught a lesson. So now he stands with the one friend that has never betrayed him. The one friend that does what he asks every time he squeezes the trigger. The only friend that he can depend on. Tragedies don’t just happen. The signs are simply overlooked every day until it’s too late.
After the read be sure to review the author’s note where resources for additional help are listed. There are also discussion questions to generate conversation & get adults and student’s talking.
Let me just start off by saying that no kid is ever born thinking one day I’m going to kill myself
The Kilwade Tragedy by Terry Keys
Before I start this review, I do want to let you all know that this book is trigger heavy. The triggers are bullying, casual drug use, physical violence, online bullying, underage drinking, and the planning/execution of a school shooting in Texas. The Kilwade Tragedy isn’t a book for everyone, but it is a book that needs to be read. So, read with these triggers in mind.
I am not going to lie. The Kilwade Tragedy was a tough book to read. There were points where I wanted to put the book down.
The Kilwade Tragedy explores the events that led Blaze to do what he did. And what is revealed is frightening.
As a mother of school-age children, The Kilwade Tragedy struck a nerve with me. I am uneasy about sending my kids to school. Even though I know that their schools have upgraded their security measures. But the security measures don’t extend to recess, school trips or sporting events. So, yes, what happened at the end of the book chilled me. Reading that was my worst nightmare.
I was impressed with the research that the author did. At the same time, I was chilled. He was able to gain access to several different middle/high schools in his area. NO ONE ASKED WHY HE WAS THERE. I couldn’t believe it.
What saddened me the most about The Kilwade Tragedy is that Blaze was let down. He was screaming for help and kept getting brushed off. By the time his mother got him to a therapist, it was too late. He was already pushed past his breaking point.
The bullying scenes were heartbreaking. I liked how the author showed the escalation of the bullying. It went from name-calling to mental to physical over a year. I liked that the author showed how the school failed Blaze. Oh boy, did they ever. Because the bullies were on the football team, they chose to turn the other cheek until it was too late. When the police went to arrest the boys for assault, they chose to let one of the kids walk because of who his father was. Unfortunately, scenarios like that one are played out all over the country. A zero bullying policy only works if the staff chooses to enforce it for everyone.
The end of The Kilwade Tragedy was chilling. The speech that the principal gave is given too often. But, in this speech, the principal acknowledged that Blaze was failed. And he vowed that change would start with his school.
The author’s note included several links where people could go for help. He also had a question and answer prompt if the book would be read in book clubs.
As I mentioned above, this is a heartbreaking book to read. Reading about what lead a teenager to decide to do a school shooting was hard for me. But I needed to read it.
I would give The Kilwade Tragedy an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread The Kilwade Tragedy. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
From the author of A Place at the Table and A Soft Place to Land, an “intense, complex, and wholly immersive” (Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author) multigenerational novel that explores the complex relationship between two very different women and the secrets they bequeath to their daughters.
Eve Whalen, privileged child of an old-money Atlanta family, meets Daniella Gold in the fall of 1962, on their first day at Belmont College. Paired as roommates, the two become fast friends. Daniella, raised in Georgetown by a Jewish father and a Methodist mother, has always felt caught between two worlds. But at Belmont, her bond with Eve allows her to finally experience a sense of belonging. That is, until the girls’ expanding awareness of the South’s systematic injustice forces them to question everything they thought they knew about the world and their places in it.
Eve veers toward radicalism—a choice pragmatic Daniella cannot fathom. After a tragedy, Eve returns to Daniella for help in beginning anew, hoping to shed her past. But the past isn’t so easily buried, as Daniella and Eve discover when their daughters are endangered by secrets meant to stay hidden.
Spanning more than thirty years of American history, from the twilight of Kennedy’s Camelot to the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency, We Are All Good People Here is “a captivating…meaningful, resonant story” (Emily Giffin, author of All We Ever Wanted) about two flawed but well-meaning women clinging to a lifelong friendship that is tested by the rushing waters of history and their own good intentions.
Daniella’s father steered the Dodge Pioneer up the serpentine drive of Belmont College, home to more than five hundred girls renowned for their Beauty and Brains, or at least that wsa what the boosterish tour guide who had shown Daniella around the previous spring had claimed.
We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White
We Are All Good People Here was an interesting read. I usually don’t like books that follow characters over the decades. Often, I find myself getting confused with what is going on and losing track of the plotline. Not in this book. We Are All Good People Here was an interesting, character-driven book that had me engrossed the entire time.
What I liked the most about this book was how the characters changed with each decade. Each decade showed a different side to Eve and Daniella. I enjoyed seeing the different sides of Eve and Daniella. I liked seeing how they related to each other in those periods of their lives. I loved seeing how their friendship evolved during the 30+ years the book covers. It made for a fantastic read.
I liked how the author had Eve and Daniella be on opposite ends of the CivilRights movement and the Vietnam War protests. It was interesting to read about Daniella’s time in Mississippi. I was interested in how Eve was immersed in a radical group. It fascinated me.
We Are All Good People Here covers so much that this review would be forever if I wrote about them all. Racism and discrimination were two of the main things discussed. Also discussed where same-sex couples, date rape, drug use, and radicalism. All these issues combined into one book made for a great read.
What I didn’t like was how Eve changed. It didn’t sit right with me. She was immersed in the culture of the underground radicals. So, for her to marry a lawyer and become a “perfect” wife was a hard pill to swallow.
I wasn’t a fan of Eve and Daniella’s kids taking over the book. But, I understood why the author did that. She wanted to introduce the issues that my generation had to deal with growing up.
The end of We Are All Good People Here was almost anticlimactic. I figured that Eve would end up doing what she did. Daniella, I didn’t expect her life to take the course that it did. It was an excellent ending to a great story. The talk that Daniella and Sarah had at the end of the book touched me.
I would give We Are All Good People Here an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread We Are All Good People Here. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.
Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.
But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.
For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.
Keeping Lucy is a tale of a mother’s love and how powerful it could be. Ginny’s heart was broken when she was told that her baby had Down’s Syndrome. It was crushed even more when her powerful father in law arraigned for the newborn to be taken to Willowridge, a school for feeble-minded people. Ginny was never allowed to see Lucy and was told that she should mourn for Lucy like she was dead. Two years pass. Then Ginny’s friend Marsha shows her a series of articles that expose Willowridge as a hell on earth for its residents. Horrified at what she saw and read, Ginny, can’t leave Lucy there. After seeing the school and the conditions for herself, Ginny is determined never to bring her back. But her actions have consequences that soon have her and Marsha racing towards Florida with the children. What will happen to Lucy? To Ginny?
Keeping Lucy was a hard book for me to read. As a mother, I couldn’t even begin to fathom what Ginny went through in the 2 years after Lucy was taken from her. I don’t know how she could live with her husband after he forced that decision on her. But, then again, this was the late 60’s/early ’70s. Men still made the decisions, and women’s feelings were not thought about.
Ginny’s character development through the book was terrific. She went from being this meek, compliant housewife to a person who stood her ground when threatened. I loved it. She became an enraged mama bear protecting her cub. The ultimatum that she threw down to Ab was epic. Even better was what she said to her overbearing, control freak of a father in law.
I didn’t care for Ab. He let his father rule his life. In doing so, he allowed his daughter to be placed in a “school” with deplorable living conditions. He did love Ginny and Peyton. I also understood where he was coming from when he made the decision to send Lucy away. But, it was everything after the fact that made me go “WTF.“
Lucy was the innocent victim in all this. I shared Ginny’s horror when she saw (and smelled) the conditions of that “school.” The scene when Ginny first changed Lucy’s diaper broke my heart. How long did she sit in that diaper for the rash to get that bad?? There are other examples of the severe neglect that she endured, but I won’t go into them.
I didn’t like Ab’s father. He was a controlling jerk. I don’t understand why he thought that he could separate a mother from her child. I don’t understand why he thought that bullying his son into complying was alright. I do believe that he was one of those rich people who thought money and connections solved everything. He was a jerk and deserved a knee to the crotch.
The main plotline, Ginny going on the run with the kids, was well written. It did get off to a slow start, but it gained steam. By the time everyone reached Florida, it was flowing nicely. I could taste her desperation. I could feel her horror and fear. But, more importantly, I saw the fierce love that she had for her children. She was willing to do whatever it took to prevent Lucy from going back to that hellhole.
The end of Keeping Lucy was different. All I have to say about it is that I am happy with how things ended up.
I would give Keeping Lucy an Adult rating. There are sexual references but sex is not described outright. There is mild language. There is mild violence. There are triggers. They would be extreme child neglect. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread Keeping Lucy. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank the publishers, the author, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Keeping Lucy.
All opinions stated in this review of Keeping Lucy are mine.