Happy book birthday to The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson! You can order your copy here, but be sure to stick around to read my thoughts on the novel.
In Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, readers are launched into the lives of privileged, seemingly perfect teenagers in a wealthy suburb of California. Their new, 23-year-old teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued with their lives, sensing the mystery and pain behind their wild and reckless ways. What she doesn’t know is that a major trauma from middle school affected each and every one of them in a different way, shaping the people they have become and haunting their everyday lives. There’s the flower child, the party girl, the druggie, the delinquent, the outsider… a Breakfast Club myriad of sorts.
Told from different perspective in each chapter, the book is divided into three time-based parts: Eighth Grade, Junior Year, and Senior Year. We watch these children grow and evolve as they prepare for the rest of their lives in the adult world once high school ends.
This story hit close to home for me, as I’m sure it will for many. The oftentimes unspoken tribulations of high school are spoken about open and honestly– something most authors shy away from– which was truly captivating, although it lingered on the line of over-the-top at times. It was a story that speaks truth for teenagers, something I wish I had growing up in a privileged suburb of Connecticut.
- The writing style was mesmerizing and poetic. It made me feel as though I was right in the story and I wound up highlighting so many passages based off of their beautiful composition.
- The character development was truly phenomenal– I’ve never seen it done so well in a Young Adult book with so many different characters. Each go through a profound transformation, whether positive or negative. It’s a realistic cycle of growth and development into adulthood.
- The ending wasn’t neatly tied up with a pretty bow. No spoilers, don’t worry! But I loved that the ending was true to life– messy and sometimes not exactly ideal. Raw, honest, no holds barred.
- The plot was incredibly intense and captivating. Fun fact: I stayed up until 4 in the morning just to finish this book once I got into it! The groggy day that followed was 100% worth it.
- The book started and ended focusing on the narration of one character, Callie/Calista. But there wasn’t much of her point of view in the center of the book– this kind of confused me and left me wanting a little more at the ending. Some sort of a deeper connection to her character throughout the course of the story’s entirety would have made it a bit more meaningful.
- While I loved the riveting plot, it fluttered on the line of over-the-top at points. I’m not saying that any of these portrayals are inaccurate, I just think that it was hard for me as a reader to consume a story with so many traumatic events that are not necessarily the norm of adolescence.
That’s it for now!
Until next time,