The Year of the Gadfly: Book summary and reviews of The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

The Year of the Gadfly

A Novel

by Jennifer Miller

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller X
The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
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  • Published in USA  May 2012
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

"Do you know what it took for Socrates' enemies to make him stop pursuing the truth?"
"Hemlock."


Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom's Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.

Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil's Advocate, the Party's underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school's new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her own troubled past.

The Year of the Gadfly is an exhilarating journey of double-crosses, deeply buried secrets, and the lifelong reverberations of losing someone you love. Following in the tradition of classic school novels such as A Separate Peace, Prep, and The Secret History, it reminds us how these years haunt our lives forever.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A gripping thrill ride that’s also a thoughtful coming-of-age story." - Kirkus

"Fascinating entomological details parallel the characters' lives. This is a coming-of-age page-turner." - Library Journal

"Part Dead Poet's Society. Part Heathers. Entirely addictive." - Glamour

"Starred Review. A smoldering mystery set in a New England prep school... The author skillfully ratchets up the tension as Iris (and the reader) finds it harder and harder to tell who the good guys are... A gripping thrill ride that's also a thoughtful coming-of-age story." - Kirkus Reviews

"In this engrossing novel, a would-be journalist unearths scandalous secrets at her prep school with the help of a famous reporter's ghost." - O Magazine

"Hysterical and moving, The Year of the Gadfly fuses Special Topics in Calamity Physics with Portnoy's Complaint for girls. This book is an imaginative delight." - Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

The Year of the Gadfly
I have to say I am drawn to any book with an academic setting and this book took me right back to high school days. Iris is not quite your ordinary 14 yr. old, as she seriously wants to become a journalist, and her hero is Edward Murrow, who she talks to quite often. Yes, she knows he is dead but the fact really alarms her parents. Mariana Academy is a school for intense students who want to go to an ivy league colleges and it was founded by Prisom with a serious honor code. There is a group Prism Party, that is bent on revealing all infractions of the honor code, by students or teachers. But is Prisom Party good or are they out for their own nefarious purposes. This is one of the things Iris hopes to find out. Miller does a wonderful job exposing the vulnerability, self consciousness and heartbreak of the high school years. She uses three different characters for her narration, a great vehicle for exposing the reader to all sides of the story. This is a remarkably well written, yet easy to follow story, showing the many ways that these school days mark our lives for good or bad and that some people can never progress from those days. I am so glad I have and also glad that I do not have to go back and do them again. Will appeal to fans of coming of age stories, those who like academic settings and those who like very likable young characters.

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Author Information

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller, author of Inheriting the Holy Land: An American's Search for Hope in the Middle East, holds an undergraduate degree from Brown and graduate degrees in journalism and fiction from Columbia. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Marie Claire, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast, Salon, and others. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and now lives in Brooklyn. This is her first novel.

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