CHANDLER LEGACIES - Starred Reviews from Booklist & SLJ, more raves
Both Booklist and School Library Journal have given THE CHANDLER LEGACIES a starred review.
School Library Journal says: "Nazemian’s latest skillfully unpacks the skeletons in a fictional New England boarding school’s closet. Alternating perspectives with each chapter, the majority third-person narration gives insight into the interconnected experiences of five members of an exclusive campus writing group, the Circle. Former roommates Beth and Sarah are forced to confront their unresolved conflict from the previous year. New student Ramin becomes a target of the prefects in his dorm—prefects who are supposed to be popular, attractive Freddy’s friends. Then there’s Spence, the star actress slowly starting to see her mentor’s true face. Together, the quintet makes their school’s motto their mission: veritas vos liberabit (“the truth will set you free”). The more they learn about the truth, however, the more they want to set things right for everyone. At what cost? Inspired by Nazemian’s own boarding school experiences, this gripping story reads like an insider’s exposé into abusive school cultures and trauma. Centering the victims’ point of view, Nazemian tackles tough topics like hazing and sexual assault, and justly delivers consequences to abusers. The diverse cast of central characters includes multiple queer characters and a range of other identities including white, Indian American, Latino, and Iranian. Pop culture references scattered throughout the story expertly evoke the late-1990s setting. An epilogue gives necessary closure and a glimpse into characters’ futures.
VERDICT Haunting truths and compelling storytelling make for an unforgettable, important read. For all teen collections."
Booklist says: "Professor Douglas’ writing workshop is commonly known as the Circle, and it seems virtually everyone at Chandler, an exclusive coed boarding school in Connecticut, wants admittance to it. This is the story of the lucky five who have been admitted. There is Ramin, who fled his native Iran when it was discovered that he is gay; Beth, a closeted lesbian who is a resident townie; Freddy, a silver medalist in the junior Olympics who is bisexual; Spence, a gorgeous girl whose Indian mother is a celebrated model, and Brunson, whose relationship with Beth is weighed down by a betrayal that occurred when the two girls were roommates the previous year. As the action moves from student to student, readers get to know the five as they themselves become acquainted and begin to bond as a de facto family at the urging of Professor Douglas, who is the only out queer faculty member on campus. While writing a classic school story, Nazemian (Like a Love Story, 2019) does a superb job of giving his chief characters individual, idiosyncratic identities while also bringing the writing workshop to life. The students’ encounter with a pedophile faculty member (not Professor Douglas) lends drama and suspense to this well-crafted, memorable story whose sympathetic characters will resonate with readers. Professor Douglas would surely give it an A."
The novel has also received rave reviews from Publisher's Weekly ("a riveting portrait of prep school life"), The Quiet Pond ("Searing and ultimately hopeful, The Chandler Legacies is a complex portrait of boarding school life that lays bare the toxic cultures pervasive in such institutions, but does so moments of levity and the joys of friendship and connection balanced with the deliberate solemnity when exploring its darker subject matter") and The Horn ("Nazemian’s novel is an uplifting and positive coming-of-age exploration of friendship, love, and creativity and how these things can help individuals heal and set themselves free to formulate their own legacies.")
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