On December 30 I received a book in the mail from Delacorte Press; they had kindly sent me a copy of S.T.A.G.S, a new novel, perhaps in hopes that I would read and review it. I am lucky enough to receive books with regularity, but not all of the stories catch my fancy, and often I start one and put it aside again.
Who knows what sort of alchemy is involved when a reader and a book find that they are a good match? I only know that when I opened this book and read the first page, my brain said "Yes!"
December 30 happened to be my birthday, and I sat down in the afternoon to enjoy the unexpected gift. For the first time in a long time, I finished a book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.
Don't we all long for that very reading experience?
S.T.A.G.S had an interesting premise: a middle-class British girl is accepted into the school known by the title acronym. It stands for St. Aidan the Great School, a prestigious boarding academy that is the realm of the very rich. From the start the heroine, Greer (named after Greer Garson because of her father's love of movies) knows that she is an outcast, but she's determined to keep her head down, do her work, and just get through the semester. She doesn't need to be popular. And yet, like any teenager, she does sometimes crave approval, and like everyone on campus she dreams of being noticed by The Medievals, the beautiful, privileged six who dominate the campus with their wealth and breeding. The leader of this group is Henry: tall, blond, charming as a prince. Or so it would seem.
When Greer and two other misfits are invited to Henry's estate for a weekend of "huntin, shootin, fishin," the reader knows that The Medievals are up to no good, and deep down Greer knows it, too, but she can't resist the invitation and the chance to be popular.
One has to suspend some disbelief in order to enter into the St. Aidan's world, but the book was well-written, capturing the tone of The Other as Greer tries to negotiate the exclusionary behaviors on campus. Although this is meant on one level to be fun suspense, the novel does a good job of interrogating wealth, white privilege, and arbitrary class distinctions.
I'm sure it will be made into a movie, and I for one will go to see it.