January BOTM Review: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth and The Grownup

I currently have a three month subscription to Book of the Month, until March, so I thought I would offer my thoughts on each month’s book/s. I’m not sure if I will renew my subscription after March, since at $15.00 a month, it’s a bit out of my budget as a broke college student. It is a great deal to get beautiful, new hard covers, though!

For the month of January, I chose The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson as my book, and they also sent along The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. Below are my reviews of both–

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

9780812997279It’s hard for me to describe the plot of this novel, because it focuses more on how the characters develop and change. But in its simplest form, the book is about Molly, who is a new teacher at a high school full of wealthy students, whose lives differ vastly from her own. As Molly begins to connect with her students, she develops a desire to learn more and more about their lives, and become more of a friend than a teacher. This novel chronicles her successes and missteps as she begins to understand more about herself, her students and her job as a teacher. We also get glimpses of the lives of a few of the students, and how a traumatic event that took place in middle school continues to exert influence over their lives.

I really enjoyed Johnson’s writing style, which was both relatable and thoughtful. While I enjoyed all of the characters, I wish Johnson focused on a smaller group of characters. Molly is the only character who gets multiple chapters, as she is our leader throughout the novel. Other chapters bounce between different students, and I felt that they were unsatisfying peeks into their lives, that left me wanting more. I think a more intense study of one or two students, along with Molly, would have made this novel a more compelling read.

Even though the novel is lacking in depth, Johnson represents teenagers rather well. The transition of characters from middle to high school seemed very accurate to me, and reading this book brought back memories of my time in middle and high school. This book prompted me to reflect on my own time in high school, and how myself and my peers acted. It was a time of transition, as we tried to figure out who we were and where we were going. Many of us didn’t consider the consequences of our actions as we desperately hung onto the social rules of high school. I really enjoyed reading a novel that inspects high school from an ‘outsider’ point of view, as most of the novels I have read that took place in high school were YA novels narrated by a teenager. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is a very fitting title, and was a very thought-provoking read.

I would recommend this book simply because it is a very well-written portrayal of high school for adult audiences, which I haven’t seen much of before.

3.5/5 stars.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

the-grownup-coverThis is a short ghost story by Gillian Flynn, and due to the short nature of the story, I’ll also keep my review short. I thought this was a very charming story, and it wasn’t as spooky as I was expecting. It veered more towards the creepy, yet thought-provoking stories that Flynn is known for. The ending is unresolved, and leaves you with a lot to think about. Also, I really enjoyed the narrator, as per usual with Flynn’s stories!

4/5 stars

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