Review: Academy Girls, Nora Carroll

Heh.  Well.  This qualified as my “Book Set in a School” for the 2015 Reading Challenge, as well as being one of my Netgalley reads.  It centres around Jane Milton, recently divorced with a jailbird ex and a mountain of debt, forced to return to her old boarding school as teacher despite some rather unhappy memories of her schooldays.  With her teenage son in tow, Jane finds herself encountering the same ‘types’ of pupils who gave her so much bother as a teenager, as well as more than a few old contemporaries who have also returned as teachers.

Although the book had potential and had some interesting plot points, more than anything it felt that it was trying too hard.  Early on, Jane is asked by the dubious headteacher why she has decided to become a teacher (other than that her oldest friend and erstwhile nemesis Lissa make a generous donation to get her the job), Jane makes a vague comment about wanting to inspire pupils to love literature.  She is curtly told that this is not Dead Poets’ Society.  It isn’t but it felt as though Carroll had aspirations in that direction.  Similarly, Academy Girls is not The Secret History or The Rehearsal, or even All I Wanna Do but it felt hopelessly derivative.

Jane recalls the trio of girls, herself and her two friends Lissa and Kat and their teenage fixation of the murder of an old headmaster nearly two decades previously, convinced that their English teacher was responsible.  Predictably, the story begins to resurface soon after Jane’s return to the school, retold by the Regina George-esque class golden girl who has quickly succeeded in getting under Jane’s skin.  Still, I couldn’t help but feel that the question of boarding school mysteries had been done far better in Skippy Dies or well – any other boarding school story that I can think of.  It’s not that this is a bad book – it’s more that it just isn’t interesting enough to be bad.  It’s like the literary equivalent of magnolia – or ready salted crisps.  I finished it quickly and recommend it as a light read but – heh.  I won’t re-read.

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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Academy Girls by Nora Carroll
Published by Amazon Publishing on September 15th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 383
ISBN: 9781503947443

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