Abdi Nazemian’s Like A Love Story is one of my all time favorite books; it completely blew me away and I’ve reread it several times, always finding new depths to the story and getting my heart broken for the characters. So The Chandler Legacies has been one of my most anticipated releases since I first heard of it and I was so happy and grateful for the chance to read an eARC of it thanks to SparkPoint. And while it’s a very different story from Like A Love Story, The Chandler Legacies and its wonderful characters definitely stole my heart too.
This is a beautiful, gripping and heartbreaking story following five students at a privileged elite boarding school. It’s both a dark tale revealing how they experience the toxic and abusive culture in different ways, as well as a hopeful and warm story about their dreams and hopes and friendships.
All of the five students get their own chapters to tell the story from different POVs: Beth who is a “townie” and doesn’t feel like she belongs neither in her new elite environment or at home in her old one, Sarah who desperately wants to succeed and build a new future for herself, Spence who is the privileged daughter of NYC elites but who wants to achieve things on her own, Freddy who has worked so hard to become an elite athlete, but who starts to doubt his life choices, and Ramin who has transferred to Chandler to escape the danger of being gay in Iran, only to find himself the victim of brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorm. I really appreciated the diverse cast and the complexity of issues they all dealt with. Ramin resembles the author himself very much, and Abdi Nazemian has explained that the story is based on true events from his own youth, which makes these events even harder to read about.
Overall, this was quite a dark story (much darker than I had first expected), but Abdi Nazemian handled the story and the tough topics in such a delicate and realistic way. A lot of times there was a sense of hopelessness about how everything got silenced and how toxic behavior was even encouraged as part of the tradition, but with the Circle, a coveted writing group led by Professor Douglas, as the light in the darkness. It was so beautiful and wonderful to see how the writing sessions brought the five characters together and empowered them to be brave and true to themselves. This book is something of an ode to the power of the written word and how important friendship and to have a safe place in life is.
I immediately rooted for Ramin, Freddy and Spence, but Sarah took a little longer to warm up to. And sadly I never really felt like I got to know Beth. As a character she felt bland and didn’t add so much to the story. I think the story could have benefited from fewer POVs, where each character could have gotten more time and been more fleshed out. I would have loved to learn even more about the backgrounds of especially Ramin and Freddy, and Professor Douglas.
But all in all, this was such a gripping and poignant story that held me captivated all the way through and made me root for many of the characters. Even though it was so dark and showed all toxic sides of a culture build on silence, fear and nepotism, it also gave me so much hope and warm fuzzy feelings for the wonderful friendship and how the Circle members had each others’ backs. It was also a wonderful coming-of-age story and the character growths were absolutely amazing! The way they all, and especially Ramin, eventually dared to be true to themselves and stand up for their beliefs was such a hopeful and wonderful message.
Thank you to Sabrina Kenoun, SparkPoint Studio and NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4.5 gripping stars rounding up to 5
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez