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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"...the dream is always a nightmare and I'm always drenched in sweat..."
on 28 September 2010
The headteacher of an exclusive private Vermont boarding school catering for children from 14 to 19 years old receives a video tape of a series of sexual acts being performed by three senior male students with a freshman junior girl. The rumours abound (it's now on You Tube), the names of all the participants are known, the only secret that is never divulged is: who did the filming? Though we do find out why it was kept a secret towards the end of the novel. What we need to know, almost urgently, is why did this happen? But there can't be a why, not really, because the `because' is simply a `because.' No one is definitively to blame. All of them could have at some point or other, declined to take part any further. There might be a valid `why?' to the act of filming the sex - but that is not addressed in the novel. Another valid why? might be the question of senior students with a girl so much younger than themselves - but the question of age disparity doesn't arise so much as become a part of the understandably retributive aftermath. The girl was not coerced - yet she might have felt she was, naively or knowingly, enjoying the attention, or secretly scared to say no to them? Or might she have expected young men, so much older than her, to call a halt to proceedings? Yet what testosterone-fuelled young man could be relied upon to do that?
The novel concentrates very much on the adult's reaction to this career-wrecking incident - even though it wrecks the chances of the `children' involved too. Marriages break up, (some were heading for the rocks anyway). The headteacher tries to keep the incident within the campus, but it inevitably escapes and the school's reputation is trashed, as a media-storm erupts.
This is a sometimes rather jaggedly delivered story, told by both participants and onlookers, and it's true, as another reviewer remarks here, there is not much to distinguish them from one another. Most don't, anyhow, have much of great importance to say. But there is a fascinating dilemma at its heart, who do you blame? All seem equally culpable, which makes this an honest book and a compelling read, though the very sad finale is foreshadowed from quite an early stage.