23 April 2013

Teen Tuesday

Escape Theory (A Keaton School novel) by Margaux Froley (Soho Teen trade paperback, 12 March 2013).

After less than a week as a new scholarship student at the private Keaton School, Devon Mackintosh felt out-of-place and lonely.  Deciding to dig into a package of Nutter Butter cookies that her mother sneaked into her suitcase, she suddenly realized that she needed a glass of milk to go with them.  So she headed down past the library, the boys' dorms and and the teachers' lounge to the dining hall.  

But the milk machine had been shut down for the night.  About to head back to her room, Devon runs into Jason Hutchins, who, telling her to call him "Hutch" shows her where the fridge is.    Devon is surprised that the room isn't locked, and sure enough, while they're in there talking, someone comes along and locks the door. 

Now it's Devon's junior year at Keaton.   She feels more comfortable at the school,  but sometimes still feels like an outsider.  She'd spent a week during the summer training to be a "peer counselor" little knowing that she'd need to use those skills almost immediately. 

Hutch's body had been found not far from campus.  He'd texted a "suicide note" to some of his close friends before overdosing on Oxycontin.  And now Devon was being asked to counsel some of those friends.

Although they hadn't been close during the two years Devon had been at Keaton, she was certain that Hutch wouldn't have killed himself, a feeling that's shared by his best friend Matt, the first person that Devon is assigned to counsel.  After sessions with  more of Hutch's friends, Devon becomes even more sure of it, and decides to prove it.  But how?

This is a well-constructed psychological mystery about a young woman who decides that a suicide verdict is wrong, and sets out to prove it, against the advice -- and threats -- of teachers and fellow students.  One of those books that's impossible to put down once begun, it will appeal to readers who like "school stories" as well as mystery lovers.

This is Froley's first novel, but the subtitle implies that there will be more stories about Keaton, and I look forward to reading them. 

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy of the book.

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