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All souls
Christine Schutt
Adult Fiction SCHUTT

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The brutal, materialistic and dysfunctional underbelly of prep schools and the females who live in it create the foundation for Schutt's beautifully written but light-on-substance novel (following 2004's National Book Award finalist Florida). In the midst of 1997 Manhattan, all-girl prep school Siddons churns out ladies with a wide spectrum of academic skills, mental problems and severe insecurities, all of whom have been touched in some way by the novel's saintly lynchpin, Astra Dell, who leaves her studies behind to fight her rare cancer. Schutt introduces a large cast of characters who are dealing with Astra's absence and their own personal problems: Astra's best friend, anorexic Car; "dirty girl" Marlene; the inseparable and insensitive Alex and Suki; lesbian outcast Lisa; and their beloved instructors, the awkward Anna Mazur and Tim Weeks, the handsome colleague Anna's in love with. Unfortunately, Schutt shoehorns too many characters into a relatively thin book, and though there isn't a boring sentence in here, Schutt doesn't do enough with the familiar prep school setting to make the story resonate. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this latest novel by Schutt (Florida,), the angst of very rich girls undergoing the stress of senior year in a Manhattan prep school is leavened by their reactions to a classmate who is ill in the hospital with a rare form of cancer. Astra Dell, who lost her own mother a few years ago in a violent accident, haunts her classmates: she becomes a rationalization for their bulimia and a reason to blame themselves for caring so deeply about their college applications. Her best friends rarely visit, or they resort to sending her thoughtless letters, but Marlene, a scholarship student, finds herself more comfortable on the neutral ground of the hospital room than in school. She regularly brings Astra her homework and becomes her most devoted visitor. Schutt's spare and artful prose strikes a balance between poignancy and cynicism in illustrating the interconnections of classmates, parents, and teachers. Some chapters are mere brief impressions, but these snippets cohere into a picture of the school's community and its sharp divisions of class and wealth. Recommended for popular fiction collections.-Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Astra Dell
Cancer patient
Leaves school to fight her rare cancer.

Attending an all-girl prep school; Astra's best friend; misses her friend; writes letters.

Attending an all-girl prep school; friends with Astra; known as the "Dirty Girl"; stelas the letters that Car writes.

Attending an all-girl prep school; friends with Astra; insensitive; always seen hanging out with Suki.

Attending an all-girl prep school; friends with Astra; insensitive; always seen hanging out with Alex.

Attending an all-girl prep school; friends with Astra; in love with a female teacher.

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