Previously known for her narrative nonfiction book Inheriting the Holy Land: An American’s Search for Hope in the Middle East, Jennifer Miller returns with a debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly. A little bit Secret History, a little bit Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Miller’s academic thriller is sure to rank among other classic prep-school novels, such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.
The Year of the Gadfly follows Iris Dupont, a high school sophomore suffering from depression due to the suicide of her closest friend. Dupont is forced by her parents to leave her former high school and attend the prestigious Mariana Academy. When she is not secretly confiding in the ghost of Edward R. Murrow (her cigarette-smoking, suspenders-wearing, reporter mentor), Dupont is trying to distract herself from her loneliness by forcing her way onto the school newspaper’s staff.
Dupont gradually learns that Mariana is not quite what its reputation claims. Over the years, a secret society, Prism’s Party, has ruthlessly exposed the misdeeds of students and teachers alike in an underground newspaper, The Devil’s Advocate. Dupont—ever the eager journalist—tries to unmask the members of this secret party by investigating her favorite maniacal teacher, Mr. Kaplan, and his connections to Lily, the former student whose bedroom Dupont now occupies.
Miller intelligently unfurls these mysteries by telling the story from three distinct yet intertwined points of view: those of Dupont, Mr. Kaplan and Lily. The Year of the Gadfly is a riveting story of the highs and lows of adolescence, one that is fit for readers of all ages.