The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

“So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

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.”

WILL BE AVAILABLE: January 14, 2014


The publisher gave me a copy of this book to read and review (from NetGalley). This has, in no way, altered my opinion of the book and what is written below is a 100% honest review.

I very much disliked this book when I started it. I only kept reading because I had heard that there was a delicious plot twist… and I’m a total sucker for a good plot twist. To Joanna Wiebe’s credit, the plot twist was amazing and I definitely did not see it coming… AT ALL.

The main protagonist was annoying the first half of the book. She was whiny (yes, I understand that she is stuck on a weird island with a bunch of rich kids) and she’s way too judgmental of everything around her. I found that I sided with the popular girls over her at times just because she immediately judged everything and everyone based on their exterior appearance and I just wanted to smack Anne Merchant for the first half of the novel. She was a brat! For example, one of the lines in the book described a random headmaster who had done nothing to Anne Merchant to warrant her cold, judgmental words.

“A prerequisite to work at Cania must be that you are the ugliest son of a b**ch alive.”

AND, here’s another example:

“She’s so pretty, I have a hard time believing she works alongside fuglies like the secretaries, Teddy, and Villicus.”

Like, seriously. Shut up, Anne Merchant. Please.

That being said, her narrative voice improved throughout the book. I found myself liking her and sympathizing with her during the second half. I loved the character of Ben and his protective nature. During the last half, I had no idea what was going to happen next… it was all twists and turns… a wild ride!

I found a lot of loopholes in the plot, though, regarding the two worlds Anne balances. Some parts were genuinely confusing and I really wish the author had thought them out a bit more and addressed the questions swirling in my head! I enjoyed the novel and am glad that I stuck it out and finished it.

It ends hinting at a sequel. After just finishing it, I don’t know if I’d read the second one yet. I’m undecided.


PG-13:Sexual content, language, and dark themes

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