The Hawthorne School

Sylvie Perry. Crooked Lane, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64385-792-3
Single mother Claudia Vera, the heroine of the pseudonymous Perry’s unsettling debut, supports herself and her fractious four-year-old son, Henry, as a massage therapist in the Chicago area. When Henry rebels against his traditional preschool, Claudia visits the Hawthorne School, a former convent converted to a progressive Scandinavian-style “forest school,” which emphasizes outdoor learning. Claudia is charmed by the quirky director, Zelma Huxley, who offers her a tuition break in return for her volunteering at the school. At first, Henry does well, and Claudia is pleased by his improved behavior. But as time passes, it becomes clear Zelma and her handsome assistant, Niles Holloway, have a secret agenda. They play on Claudia’s love for Henry and her feelings of inadequacy, drawing her into physical and psychological dependence by drugging her tea and food, with potentially dire consequences for her relationship with Henry. Perry, herself a psychotherapist, expertly explores the vulnerability of a well-meaning but insecure parent to manipulation, but her frightening narrative falters as it slides toward a surrealistic and unconvincing conclusion. Still, psychological thriller fans will be curious to see what she does next. Agent: Danielle Bukowski, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 08/25/2021
Release date: 12/07/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-63808-207-1
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-6665-3550-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-6665-2360-7
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