cover image Briarcliff Prep

Briarcliff Prep

Brianna Peppins. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-368-07837-5

Avielle LeBeau is an incoming freshman at prestigious Briarcliff Preparatory School for Girls, a Historically Black Boarding School in Georgia attended largely by affluent Black teens. Avi is excited to finally be in the same school system as her older siblings, especially her sister Belle, a senior and the most promising performer of Briarcliff’s dance troupe, the Cheetahnaires. Avi also has her own aspirations: she’s set on making a good impression with the staff of Briarcliff’s student newspaper Cliff News, determined to become their creative writing columnist. Avi doesn’t take long to make new friends, and she soon develops feelings for her handsome math tutor Quincy, who goes to the neighboring all-boys school and happens to be her older brother’s best friend. But when Avi witnesses Belle’s boyfriend, son of the all-boys school’s headmaster, physically assaulting Belle, Avi struggles to advocate for justice and maintain her fledgling social life at school. Brimming with a wealth of pop culture references—Belle dreams of modeling her career after “Beyoncé’s dance captain”—and told via a limited omniscient viewpoint that renders Avi’s life and the people around her in expertly nuanced detail, this powerful debut compassionately tackles themes of class privilege and domestic violence. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jas Perry, KT Literary. (Nov.)

Correction: A previous version of this review misstated the headmaster's school affiliation.