Rating: 4.5 STARS
One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in and why.
As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.
Author Interview with Joanna Wiebe
I adore boarding school books, too 🙂 – but the building that inspired Cania isn’t actually a school building. In fact, it’s not a completed building at all. I live on the very lush Vancouver Island, home to a place called Yuen Lodge, which is the remains of what might have been a spectacular hotel had its builder not abandoned it partway through. The ruined lodge is amazing – you’re walking along the cliffs of a national park, surrounded by waterfalls, evergreens and moss, and suddenly a three-story stone fireplace looms before you. Check it out (photos attached, copyright Darren Barefoot).
When you stand within the stone walls of the ruined lodge, you’re forced to reflect on the frailty of dreams; when you see tree roots forcing through the floors and look at the panorama of forest, you can’t help but feel small, impermanent and mortal. (Which sounds depressing and morbid, doesn’t it?! hahaha! It’s not meant to be; being human, with all our flaws, is something that interests me, and I hope that’ll come through in this trilogy.) If someone were to take the bones of the lodge and finish it, I’m sure it would turn out looking just like Goethe Hall at Cania Christy.
Thank you! I think that’s a good thing, right? 🙂 I read a range of fiction, but I suppose that the mood and the way it’s set are inspired by books like Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot and even Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home… Those are fantastically eerie books where the setting is sinister enough to be a character of its own – so they’re great inspiration.
In creative writing class in undergrad, I wrote a story about these senior dudes graduating from a boarding school called Compton Christy, and the school stuck with me, as did the main character; years later, that school became Cania Christy, and the character became Pilot Stone. Anne, Ben and Dr. Zin already existed for me in another story I was stuck on — one about a man-made boy and his mad sister — and it occurred to me that the characters were kinda begging to come together at Cania Christy… and that was the beginning of it. Once I realized that Anne and Pilot were meant to connect, it was all I could do to keep back a tidal wave of ideas, which became The Unseemly Education... and helped me plot out the next two books in the trilogy.
Gosh, that’s tough! There are so many good ones. I couldn’t consume The Hunger Games fast enough, and I really loved the storytelling in The Book Thief. But my favorite book of all time is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which could possibly qualify as YA; I love a character-driven story that invites me to explore political topics, and I especially love it when the hero is particularly flawed, which Huck is. Perfection is boring; flaws are everything.
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