Top 5 Wednesday • Back to school

Le thème de cette semaine s’intitule Back to school. Le sens peut être très large, puisque sont acceptés les livres lus durant les études ou ceux parlant d’écoles, de lycées, d’universités… C’est plutôt dans ce sens-là que j’ai axé ma sélection. Les romans que je vous propose ont tous été lus.

The Assignment • Liza Wiemer

SENIOR YEAR. When an assignment given by a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution, a euphemism used to describe the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people, Logan March and Cade Crawford are horrified. Their teacher cannot seriously expect anyone to complete an assignment that fuels intolerance and discrimination. Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand. As the school administration addressed the teens’ refusal to participate in the appalling debate, the student body, their parents, and the larger community are forced to face the issue as well. The situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result. What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?

They never learn • Layne Fargo

Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.

In my dreams I hold a knife • Ashley Winstead

A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

Métamorphoses, Vita Nostra • Marina et Sergueï Diatchenko

Vita nostra brevis est, brevi finietur…
« Notre vie est brève, elle finira bientôt… »

C’est dans le bourg paumé de Torpa que Sacha entonnera l’hymne des étudiants, à l’« Institut des technologies spéciales ». Pour y apprendre quoi ? Allez savoir. Dans quel but et en vue de quelle carrière ? Mystère encore. Il faut dire que son inscription ne relève pas exactement d’un choix : on la lui a imposée… Comment s’étonner dès lors de l’apparente absurdité de l’enseignement, de l’arbitraire despotisme des professeurs et de l’inquiétante bizarrerie des étudiants ?

A-t-on affaire, avec Vita nostra, à un roman d’initiation à la magie ? Oui et non. On évoque irrésistiblement la saga d’Harry Potter et plus encore Les Magiciens de Lev Grossman. Mêmes jeunes esprits en formation, même apprentissage semé d’obstacles. Mais c’est sur une autre terre et dans une autre culture, slaves celles-là, que reposent les fondations d’un livre qui nous rappellera que le Verbe se veut à l’origine du monde. Les lecteurs de fantasy occidentale saturés d’aspirations à l’héroïsme tous azimuts en seront tourneboulés.

My dark Vanessa • Kate Elizabeth Russell

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. 

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