The St. Ambrose School for Girls, a review by Shelley

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THE ST. AMBROSE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Jessica Ward

Simon & Schuster Canada | Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 11th, 2023
368 Pages
Goodreads | Amazon

Of all the things my illness can take from me, I never expected it would be my credibility. And certainly not when such a thing matters most.

I was really surprised to find that this is author J.R. Ward. Please don’t hate on me…her paranormal romance stuff isn’t my kind of thing. BUT…she hits it out of the park with this literary thriller that is also part coming of age. I love a good dark academia tale, especially one with a mean girls twist…Boy, we ladies sure can be vicious.

Sarah, our main character is infatuated with the RA/English teacher at her new boarding school, until he does something she doesn’t agree with. She is a very young fifteen-year-old and her fantasies/delusions about him, death and many other teenage angst issues were very real to her. I loved the way the author wrote these scenes. Sarah has a lot of self-loathing and the narrative of this one was very complex because Sarah is bipolar, her illness is a character with its own personality, thoughts and feelings. There is, of course, a death but we don’t know who the killer is and there are a lot of red herrings along the way. This is a slow burn but I found it worked here, with the gothic vibes and unreliable narrator. It added to the tension and helped me to get to know the characters.

I liked this book a lot more than most as many reviewers have said the mental illness aspect isn’t realistic. I am here to tell you, it is. People with severe bipolar disorder can and do behave like Sarah. She was portrayed very realistically as were her behaviours and the limits of her medications. Well done to Jessica Ward for branching out to thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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