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YA Review: The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian

Title: The Chandler Legacies
Author: Abdi Nazemian
Year published: 2022
Category: YA fiction
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (CT)

SummaryBeth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of tension with her roommate, Sarah.

But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.

Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.

Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.

And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?

Review: I previously read Nazemian's Like a Love Story, which I really liked. But this one? Wow. Just wow. This book is so good and has so much going on in it.

I don't want to reveal the characters' truths in this review because that would ruin the book for other readers, but suffice it to say, it's about being honest at many levels. The first is to be honest with oneself, which is difficult at any age, but especially as a teenager. What is our role in hurting others and when we are the one who is hurt? Do we tell? Do we confront? What are the consequences of confronting and being honest?

And what about being honest with others? With adults when you are a teenager or with a colleague? When is it okay to hold back and when is it a crime (or a shame) not to be truthful? All of these questions are front and center in this novel along with how friendships are formed and maintained. 

Nazemian's afterword is powerful and important, giving perspective and truth to the novel. In high school, I, too, had a similar experience to one of the characters, so I think it is doubly important that she found her voice. The general theme of this novel has also been in the news with a couple California boarding schools lately so the novel is timely.  

Challenges for which this counts:  
  • Literary Escapes--Connecticut
  • Pop Sugar--About a secret

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