In this variation on the magic child goes to school theme, 16-year-old Lily Carter accompanies her grandfather and dim, frail mother to Princeton for Reunions weekend. At the Vineyard Club, an exclusive undergraduate "eating club" (modeled on actual Princeton institutions), Lily meets her grandfather's former classmates and is invited to undergo the Legacy Test: if she can find the Ivy Key, she will automatically be admitted to Princeton. Amid crowds of good-natured strangers clad in orange and black, Lily does not at first question the help she gets from a boy with tiger-striped hair. But when stone gargoyles move and books in the library attack, Lily stops taking her assumptions about reality for granted. College admission seems an odd choice for Durst's (Ice) YA fantasy premise; teens generally look upon college as an opportunity for real life to get better, not an event requiring imaginative escape. Readers for whom the admissions process is not an imminent issue may be more intrigued. Lily's naïve perceptions and the book's simple moral framework also point to a younger audience for this bit of nostalgic whimsy. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/2010 Release date: 10/01/2010 Genre: Children's
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