cover image Our Best Intentions

Our Best Intentions

Vibhuti Jain. Morrow, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-327878-3

Jain’s riveting debut centers on a stabbing at a high school in affluent Westchester County, N.Y. While on the way to swimming practice, sophomore Angela Singh discovers her crush, Henry McCleary, collapsed and bleeding. After realizing he’s been stabbed, she calls 911. As the story unfolds from various characters’ points of view, the question is not who stabbed Henry, but why. Students, though, are quick to vilify Henry’s assailant, Chiara Thomkins, a Black girl enrolled at the school who’s been squatting on campus. As Henry, who is white, recuperates in the hospital, Chiara goes missing, and the McClearys’ lawyer disparages Chiara for having used her cousin’s address to attend the school. Henry, meanwhile, hides the fact that he and his friend Chris met Chiara to buy weed from her, and that Chris mocked her for being “homeless,” held her down, and went through her bag. Also in the mix is Angela’s father, Babur, an Uber driver and immigrant from India who has built up a fleet of cars to afford living in the school district for Angela’s benefit, and who worries Angela’s role in the affair will hurt her future. Jain excels at revealing each character’s motivations and fears, and at how easily the truth can be distorted. This page-turner will stay with readers. Agent: Alexa Stark, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)