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They Wish They Were Us
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They Wish They Were Us
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TV ADAPTATION "THE PLAYERS' TABLE" STARRING HALSEY AND EUPHORIA'S SYDNEY SWEENEY COMING TO HBO MAX“A pristine infusion of Gossip Girl and Netflix's Elite, this prep-school thriller has it all:...
TV ADAPTATION "THE PLAYERS' TABLE" STARRING HALSEY AND EUPHORIA'S SYDNEY SWEENEY COMING TO HBO MAX“A pristine infusion of Gossip Girl and Netflix's Elite, this prep-school thriller has it all:...
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  • TV ADAPTATION "THE PLAYERS' TABLE" STARRING HALSEY AND EUPHORIA'S SYDNEY SWEENEY COMING TO HBO MAX

    “A pristine infusion of Gossip Girl and Netflix's Elite, this prep-school thriller has it all: plaid skirts, secret societies, and a gripping murder mystery, but paired with an adept critique of the powers and privileges that goeth before the fall.” – Elle
    In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.
    Freshman year Jill's best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.
    Now, it's Jill's senior year and she's determined to make it her best yet. After all, she's a senior and a Player—a member of Gold Coast Prep's exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill's year. She's sure of it.
    But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter One

    The first day of school always means the same thing: a tribute to Shaila. Today should be the first day of her senior year. Instead, she is, like she has been for the past three years, dead. And we are due for one more reminder.

    “Ready?” Nikki asks as we pull into the parking lot. She throws her shiny black BMW, a back-to-school present from her parents, into park and takes an enormous slurp of iced coffee. “Because I’m not.” She flips the mirror down, swipes a coat of watermelon pink lipstick over her mouth, and pinches her cheeks until they flush. “You’d think they could just give her a plaque or start a charity run or something. This is brutal.”

    Nikki had been counting down to the first day of senior year since we left for summer break back in June. She called me this morning at 6:07 a.m. and when I rolled over and picked up in a hazy fog, she didn’t even wait for me to say hi. “Be ready in an hour or find another ride!” she yelled, a hairdryer blowing behind her into the speaker.

    She didn’t even need to beep her horn when she showed up. I knew she was waiting out front thanks to the deafening notes of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.” We both have a thing for eighties music. When I climbed into the front seat, Nikki looked as if she’d already had two Starbucks Ventis and a full glam squad appointment. Her dark eyes glimmered thanks to a swatch of sparkly eyeshadow and she had rolled the sleeves of her navy Gold Coast Prep blazer up to her elbows in an artful yet sloppy manner. Nikki’s one of the only people who can make our hideous uniforms actually look cool.

    Thank God my nightmares stayed away last night and the near-constant bags under my eyes had disappeared. Didn’t hurt that I’d had a few extra minutes to apply a thick coat of mascara and deal with my brows.

    When Nikki pulled out of my driveway, I was giddy with anticipation. Our time had come. We were finally at the top.

    But now that we’re actually here, parked in the Gold Coast Prep senior lot for the first time, a shiver slinks down my spine. We still have to get through Shaila’s memorial and it hangs over us like a cloud, ready to rain all over the fun.

    Shaila was the first student to ever die while attending Gold Coast Prep, so no one knew how to act or what to do. But somehow, it was decided. The school would start the year off with a fifteen-minute ceremony honoring Shaila. The tradition would last until we graduated. And as a thank you, the Arnolds would donate a new English wing in Shaila’s name. Well played, Headmaster Weingarten.

    But no one wanted to remember Graham Calloway. No one mentioned him at all.

    Last year’s assembly wasn’t so bad. Weingarten stood up and said something about how much Shaila loved math—she didn’t—and how she would have been so thrilled to be starting AP Calc if she was still with us—she wasn’t. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold showed up, as they did the year before, and sat in the front row of the auditorium, dabbing their cheeks with cotton handkerchiefs, the old-fashioned kind that were so worn, they were almost translucent and probably held residual snot from decades before.

    The six of us sat next to them, front and center, identifying ourselves as Shaila’s survivors. We were chosen as eight. But after that night we became six.

    When Nikki weaves through the parking lot and into the spot reserved for class president, Quentin is already waiting for us. “We’re seniors, bitches!” he says...

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2020

    Gr 10 Up-Debut author Goodman uses the plot device of a murder mystery to examine the power imbalance among boys and girls. Goodman studies the lives of students who are privileged and well-off versus those who receive scholarships, and people who believe the world belongs to them versus those who will do anything to achieve social and financial mobility. Becoming a Player means everything to students at Gold Coast Prep. It is a virtual ticket to every opportunity in life, offering prestige, study guides, answers to tests, and covert assistance in getting into an Ivy League college. As a freshman, Jill is thrilled to be tagged as a potential Player. But after the mysterious death of her best friend, terrible hazing, and sinister secrets, Jill isn't sure being on top is worth the price she has paid. Friendships are tested as Jill questions her place as a Player and vows to see the toxic hazing stop. Told as flashbacks from freshman to senior year, the novel offers a deep dive into the world of young elites and the pressures of success. Goodman stops just short of examining rape culture thoroughly, while many of its elements are portrayed: awful hazing events that revolve around forced nudity, sexual encounters lacking consent, implied statutory rape, and other forms of sexual harassment. The female characters always fall prey to the worst, most humiliating demands. Yet Goodman never goes farther than simply pointing it out and chronicling it. VERDICT The mystery holds, and while strong language, drug use, and full sex scenes make this a better choice for older teens, the novel has appeal for most collections.-Kristen Rademacher, Marist H.S., Chicago

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2020
    Things haven't been the same for high school senior Jill Newman since her best friend was murdered. Three years ago, Graham Calloway confessed to killing his girlfriend, Shaila Arnold. Now he's in a juvenile facility, and Jill is starting senior year at Long Island's Gold Coast Prep without her dearest friend. Luckily, Jill has Nikki Wu, whom she's grown close to since Shaila's death; her sweet boyfriend, Henry; and, of course, the Players, an exclusive club that all but guarantees an easy ride to a successful future. Jill, an aspiring astronomer who attends Gold Coast on a scholarship, must help choose the next round of freshman Player recruits while also securing desperately needed scholarship money for college. When Graham's sister, Rachel, texts Jill with claims of Graham's innocence, Jill reluctantly agrees to help. What if he actually is innocent? As Jill digs for the truth, she must come to terms with her own complicity in the Players' culture of misogyny and casual cruelty and realizes that Shaila might have been keeping explosive secrets. Goodman deftly explores the complex nature of friendship, privilege, grief, and the often crushing expectations placed on teens, all of which dovetails neatly with a twisty murder mystery. Most characters seem to be white except for Nikki, who emigrated with her family from Hong Kong; Jill is Jewish. There is queer representation in the supporting cast. A sophisticated and suspenseful debut. (Mystery. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    May 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 Jill Newman isn't just any senior at Gold Coast Prep. She's one of the Players, as the members of a secret society at her exclusive high school are known. It's a bittersweet time because her best friend, Shaila, who was killed during freshman year by a Player wannabe, won't be graduating with her. Then out of the blue, Jill receives a text stating the killer is innocent. As the senior Players test the freshman wannabes?including Jill's younger brother?she is haunted by Shaila and the possibility that her friend's killer is still on the loose. Watching her peers closely, Jill regards the Players with fresh eyes and, subsequently, makes two consequential decisions that alter her fate and that of those around her. This debut murder mystery is filled with twists and turns that will keep its pages turning. Jill's progression is predictable but not without a satisfactory payoff. Give this to mystery buffs and to readers who enjoy stories about seemingly powerless individuals finding the ability to make a difference.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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