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 Abby Kaitz Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacob Gelman Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey 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 Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson K.A. Tucker 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 Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Lex Croucher Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rachel Reid Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez