An unforgettable cast of characters is unleashed into a realm known for its cruelty - the American high school - in this captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep.
Nestled among the redwoods north of San Francisco, Mill Valley is not the paradise it appears to be - and nobody knows this better than the students of the local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral.
Lindsey Lee Johnson's kaleidoscopic narrative exposes at every turn the real human beings beneath the high school stereotypes. Abigail Cress is ticking off the boxes toward the Ivy League when she makes the first impulsive decision of her life: entering into an inappropriate relationship with a teacher. Dave Chu, who knows himself at heart to be a typical B student, takes desperate measures to live up to his parents' crushing expectations. Emma Fleed, a gifted dancer, balances rigorous rehearsals with wild weekends. Damon Flintov returns from a stint at rehab looking to prove that he's not an irredeemable screwup. And Calista Broderick, once part of the popular crowd, chooses, for reasons of her own, to become a hippie outcast.
Into this complicated web, an idealistic young English teacher arrives from a poorer, scruffier part of California. Molly Nicoll strives to connect with her students - without understanding the middle school tragedy that played out online and has continued to reverberate in different ways for all of them.
Written with the rare talent capable of turning teenage drama into urgent, adult fiction, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with sorrow, passion, and humanity.
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"Starred Review. Readers may find themselves so swept up in this enthralling novel that they finish it in a single sitting. " - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Johnson's polished debut novel puts a human face to the details of today's daily headlines of teen life. The characters' wildly risky behaviors are somewhat offset by their ability to excel academically, athletically, and artistically, if not emotionally. This bleak, potent picture will scare the pants off readers." - Library Journal
"Johnson's debut novel bristles with authentic detail of life in Marin County, where the author was born and raised...Hella effort but may not make bank." - Kirkus
"In sharp and assured prose, roving among characters, Lindsey Lee Johnson plumbs the terrifying depths of a half-dozen ultraprivileged California high school kids ... It's a phenomenal first book, a compassionate Less than Zero for the digital age." - Anthony Doerr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See
"The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is a deftly composed mosaic of adolescence in the modern age, frightening and compelling in its honesty: a terrific debut, and one that I didn't want to set down." - Julia Pierpont, New York Times bestselling author of Among the Ten Thousand Things
"Johnson's gripping debut novel leads us into the moral freefall of a group of privileged Marin County students following a dark incident in their shared past. Beautifully inhabited and written in supple, confident prose, this novel of adolescent violence and vulnerability is a knockout!" - Janet Fitch, author Paint It Black and White Oleander
"An astonishing debut novel ... With a stunning constellation of characters' voices and a fiercely compelling story, it's impossible to put down, or to forget." - Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me and Dare Me
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Lindsey Lee Johnson holds a master of professional writing degree from the University of Southern California and a BA in English from the University of California at Davis. She has served as a tutor and mentor at a private learning center, where her focus has been teaching writing to teenagers. Born and raised in Marin County, she now lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
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