The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

Joanna Wiebe, Author
Joanna Wiebe. BenBella (Perseus, dist.), $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-939529-32-9
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
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Ebook - 178 pages - 978-1-939529-33-6
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-1-940363-76-9
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Two years after her mother’s suicide, Anne Merchant is sent to boarding school. Anne is used to being an outcast—her mother was mentally ill, and her father is a mortician—and she hopes things will change at Cania Christy, an exclusive institution on an island off the Maine coast; they certainly do. While Anne has long dreamed of becoming valedictorian of her class, she isn’t prepared for how the process works at Cania. She’s assigned a Guardian she describes as “the ugliest son of a bitch alive” to guide her and evaluate her progress 24/7. He advises her to cultivate her talent for “seduction,” making the most of her “hyper-sexualized state.” She rejects the advice, but can’t stop thinking about it—at least until she witnesses the locals’ is-it-real-or-isn’t-it baby-burning ritual. Wiebe’s first novel uses the oft-seen boarding school setting to saturate this coming-of-age story in eroticized, derivative horror. The book opens a paranormal trilogy, but while major revelations turn Anne’s world on its head, it’s not a world that invites lingering. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Jan.)