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.
Well, well, well. Wasn’t this little read full of all kinds of surprises, twists and turns?
Anne Merchant was generally happy in her life. Sure, she was the weird girl, the daughter of the mortician but she was top of her class and looking to make a run for a college scholarship and then one day, her dad quite unexpectedly ships her off to Cania Christy.
Cania Christy is an ultra-exclusive boarding school that is home to a select number of students. Every student at Cania Christy have a few things in common, they are ultra-rich, ultra-snobby and, none are happy to see the new girl on campus. Anne can’t begin to conceive of why her father sent her to Cania Christy and more confounding is how he is affording the tuition and why Anne is separated from the rest of the student body. While every other student at Cania Christy lives in the dorms, Anne is segregated and lives with a local in her home. While we’re talking about crazy, Anne’s first day on campus finds her in the head master’s office, being assigned a personal guardian and, encountering two boys who are totally intriguing.
From the moment Anne enters Cania Christy everything is confounding. Every student seems to hate every other student, there are actual plots to derail students from achieving their goals, there is little to no contact allowed with the outside world and, the competition for Valedictorian is unlike anything Anne has ever experienced. These students are downright crazy and though she understands the need to do well and achieve her goals, Anne just can’t figure out why everyone around her is driven to the point of madness. In most situations, a girl such as Anne would look outside the confines of school to make new friends but upon her arrival she was told there should never, ever be any mixing of the students with the local population. Seriously, there is quite literally a large red line across the island that the Cania kids are not allowed to cross. Yep, this is one weird school!
Because she is segregated from the rest of the student body, Anne does cross the red line and makes friends with a local girl though she is warned that their relationship can never, ever become known. Additionally, Anne takes any moments alone she can find to explore the island and what she finds is just as unbelievable as the behavior of the students on campus. Between the weird ceremonies held by the locals, the totally unexplainable nighttime actions of the head master and, the activities taking place in the one house Anne can see, it all becomes quite overwhelming. Anne is very much like a dog with a bone and as the crazy begins to pile up around her, she becomes more and more determined to discover the secrets that permeate her new school. Knowing who to trust at Cania Christy is a very risky business and betrayal is always on the menu. The deeper Anne gets into the mysteries surrounding her the more she realizes that the truth will not in any way, shape or form set her free. In fact, the knowing the truth just may end her life.
The Bottom Line: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is one weird read from start to finish and I loved it!!! From the moment she arrives at Cania Christy, Anne knows there is something wonky but she can’t put her finger on exactly what it is. This is no normal high school and as Anne begins to pull the pieces together what she discovers is just outrageously stunning. I was so sucked into this story and what the hell was happening that I just didn’t see the big reveal coming. Additionally, Wiebe does an excellent job of crafting characters that are totally convincing. I hated and liked exactly who she wanted me too and then got thrown ass over teakettle by the discovery that no one is who they seem to be at Cania Christy. To top it all off, I blazed my way to the end of the read only to be left with a cliffhanger that had me angry and totally surprised. Thankfully, I came across this book late enough that the second installment of the trilogy is already available!! Onward and upward . . . . .