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The Swallows

Review

The Swallows

Lisa Lutz’s new book, THE SWALLOWS, is a biting, razor-sharp and timely look at the social hierarchy and politics at a fictional boarding school, and the girls who turn the school’s social structure upside down. Thought-provoking and at times very disturbing, Lutz’s tale is a page-turner that demonstrates the importance of doing the right thing, the effects of failing to do so, and what happens when oppression is allowed to reign for too long.

Alexandra Witt is hired as a creative writing teacher at Stonebridge Academy, a boarding school with a strict social structure that includes a group in each grade labeled “The Ten” ---  the 10 most popular students in each grade. One of her initial assignments asks her students to anonymously answer five questions. Upon reviewing the results of her assignment, Alex recognizes that something is amiss at the school and launches her own investigation. The inquiry results in a discovery that both shocks and sickens her as she realizes that the code of silence extends far wider than she ever dreamed it could or would. Her questioning of the status quo begins to inspire the girls at the school who are fed up with the toxic culture created by the male members of The Ten and their followers.

"A nail-biter from start to finish, THE SWALLOWS will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they race through the book to the end feeling equal parts horror and elation as the girls exact their revenge."

Simultaneously, Gemma Russo, a frustrated and fed-up senior, launches her own attack on the toxic culture at Stonebridge, recruiting others who seem to share her frustration with the status quo. When the girls begin to fight back and exact their revenge with Alex’s help, the boys do not go down willingly, and an all-out war ensues.

THE SWALLOWS tackles tough issues, including consent, the internet’s dark side, toxic masculinity, and the social pressures put on teens in today’s world. Lutz tells her story in short chapters relayed from the perspectives of numerous students and teachers at Stonebridge. Frequently funny and darkly subversive, it is a scathing indictment of those who maintain silence in the face of evil or abuse and the danger that results when the silence has lasted far too long. She also demonstrates that oppression almost always leads to rebellion, and the ensuing rebellion can take on a life of its own, leaving all sorts of damage in its wake.

A nail-biter from start to finish, THE SWALLOWS will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they race through the book to the end feeling equal parts horror and elation as the girls exact their revenge. Lutz’s tale is timely and demonstrates that the “boys will be boys” mentality starts early and should never be tolerated or ignored.

Reviewed by Cindy Burnett on August 16, 2019

The Swallows
by Lisa Lutz

  • Publication Date: August 13, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 1984818236
  • ISBN-13: 9781984818232