LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Prep School Stories | Fiction Reviews

Bausch, Robert. In the Fall They Come Back. Bloomsbury USA. Dec. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9781632864000. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781632864024. F

How involved should teachers be in the lives of their students? This question is at the heart of Bausch’s latest novel, set in the hothouse atmosphere of a private high school in the northern Virginia suburbs. Narrator Ben Jameson looks back on his brief career as a teacher at Glenn Acres Prep in 1985. As a new teacher, Ben believes he can make a difference, especially in the lives of three damaged young people in his class. George is abused by his bully of a father, Suzanne is a trauma victim who moves silently through the halls like a ghost, and Leslie is a troublemaker, a beautiful but spoiled and willful daughter of wealthy parents. She is the one all the other teachers warn Ben about, but he, by turns cynical and idealistic, still thinks he can help these kids turn their lives around. But will he go too far in doing so? VERDICT The author of many works of fiction (The Legend of Jesse Smoke; Far as the Eye Can See), Bausch this time presents an absorbing character study of a young man who may not understand his students—or himself—as well as he thinks he does.—­Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

Sullivan, Corinne. Indecent. Wednesday. Mar. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781250147073. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250147097.

DEBUT Imogene Abney is in her first year as a teacher’s apprentice at the Vandenberg School for Boys. Twenty-two years old, introverted, and inexperienced with boys, Imogene encounters the popular, handsome student Adam Kipling, “Kip,” out after hours with his friends. She is instantly drawn to his good looks, charm, and social status. She falls hard for Adam, coming over whenever he texts her, any fear of being caught the last thing on her mind. They quickly begin an illicit affair with consequences that are more than dangerous. Sullivan pens a steamy debut, in which infatuation crosses the line into obsession as Imogene falls deeper and more in love with Adam. While she knows that he is not in love with her, she can’t help but fall into his trap, with the torrid sex and his sweet words stroking her ego. While this novel doesn’t reinvent the wheel as far as the subject matter, Imogene’s backstory adds a layer to the story that will have readers sympathizing with her as she works through her past. VERDICT A good read for those who enjoy boarding school–based novels, including ­Jessica Anya Blau’s The Trouble with Lexie, and Amy ­Poeppel’s Small Admissions.—Erin Holt, Williamson Cty. P.L., Franklin, TN

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