The Chandler ­Legacies

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. Feb. 2022. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063039322.
Gr 9 Up–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.

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