Starting over at a new job is difficult enough without the added stress of a questionable discharge from your past position and the knowledge that you only received this second chance due to family connections. In The Swallows, by Lisa Lutz, Alex Witt is an unconventional teacher who is far from enthusiastic when she agrees to take over the creative writing classes at Stonebridge Academy. Lutz tells the sordid story of a private school with a history rife with cover-ups and a long tradition of misconduct by both faculty and students. The novel’s rotating first-person narrators include Witt and Finn Ford, two teachers at the Academy; and Gemma and Norman, two students involved in the shattering exposure of the school’s secrets. When a database ranking the female students on their sexual prowess is discovered, a plot of revenge evolves into a full-blown gender war that ends in tragedy. The men in the story are depicted primarily as callous chauvinists or impotent followers, while the women personify forces of repressed rage and simmering resentment. Occasionally exaggerated and obvious, The Swallows nonetheless remains a timely story that reflects some current headlines in this #MeToo era. It is a tale about how social media and technology can help disseminate rumors and exacerbate prejudicial views under the protection of anonymity. Lutz explores potential consequences for those seeking to preserve misogynistic traditions when their victims are compelled to fight back as their voices remain unheard. A departure from her more light-hearted Spellman Series, this new novel will garner plenty of attention from Lutz’s fans who may (or may not be) pleased by this more serious release.
Good for: Fans of Lisa Lutz (Spellman series and The Passenger); suspense tales with academic settings; strong female protagonists; contemporary themes; #MeToo topics
You may like this book if you liked: The Secret History, Donna Tartt; A Separate Peace, John Knowles; Little Tales of Misogyny, Patricia Highsmith; The Secret Place, Tana French; Misogyny: the New Activism, Gail Ukockis
Thanks to the author, NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.