The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog #NetGalley

Primary Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction  
Published: 2 March 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire  
Page count: 400 (hardcover)
My Format: eBook/ARC via NetGalley
Cover: Good
Pacing: Great  
Ending: Emotional, Satisfying
Do I Recommend: Yes!
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)

My rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis
When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to boarding school, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend Nathan died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death, or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira knows something isn’t right about the Castle School―about either of them. But uncovering the truth behind the schools’ secrets may force Moira to confront why she was sent away in the first place.

My Thoughts
I became a huge fan of Alyssa Sheinmel after reading her book A Danger to Herself and Others. That book was really good! So, I was extremely excited to get an invitation from the publisher to read and review her upcoming book. Here are my pros and cons for The Castle School:

Pros

  1. Moira loves trivia so there are a lot of interesting and unique tidbits of information included throughout the book. Nothing wrong with learning something while you are reading a great story, right?
  2. This book addresses a lot of various mental health and behavioral issues, including OCD, ADHD, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, self-mutism, kleptomania, alcoholism, drug use, grief, school dropouts, and runaways. If any of these issues are triggers for you, then be advised they are talked about regularly throughout the book, but self-harm and grief are given particular attention. I will say, however, these topics are handled with extreme care in the book. This author excels at discussing mental health issues in a way that makes them understandable to people who wouldn’t normally understand. She thoroughly and clearly explains how and why some people have these issues and she then incorporates self-care and counseling into the story. I found it eye-opening to learn about some of the causes and emotions behind some of these issues. There is never blame or ridicule in the story, but instead the story is filled with understanding and healing.
  3. This is a great book to get some perspective on how teens can experience the world. We were all teens once (some of you may still be) and we’ve all experienced that “you just don’t understand” moment with our parents or teachers. But the fact is that we likely weren’t actually mature enough or experienced enough to understand that we (as teens) didn’t always have the full picture or the tools to handle and understand what we were experiencing. One of the biggest plusses of this book for me was how the author presents both perspectives – the parents and the girls – and how each of them learned how to provide care and help to each other even though they didn’t understand why something was happening the way it was. I think this would be a great book for parents and teens to read – particularly in families where mental or behavioral health issues are present.
  4. There are 12 girls at the school. Every couple of chapters in the book there is a short chapter that provides the backstory for each girl. This backstory explains the impetus of their issue(s) and what event ultimately resulted in them getting sent to the Castle School. Those chapters were very insightful.
  5. The conversation Moira has with her mother near the end of the book had me crying like a baby. It was so incredibly emotional and powerful.
  6. I loved how Moira learned that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean keeping secrets or promises. The right thing to do isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
  7. Dr. Prince is awesome and how he helped Moira deal with her grief was amazing. I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a counselor of any kind, but I honestly believe anyone having issues dealing with grief would benefit from the information in this book.

Cons

  1. I feel like the synopsis might be misleading… not necessarily intentionally, but misleading nonetheless. There is almost a hint of supernatural or some thriller element in the synopsis that is not in the actual story. I think some other readers who have given this book lower ratings were disappointed for this very reason – they were expecting a different kind of story than what they actually read.

Summary
This book is exceptional in my opinion. It is not only a great story, but it emphasizes communication and self-care, both of which are so important.

If you are struggling with grief, this book could help you. If you are a parent of a child with mental or behavioral health issues, this book might give you some perspective. If you are a teen or a young adult struggling with a mental or behavioral health issue, this book might help you understand that there are ways to get help and that needing help is not something to be ashamed of. I honestly feel like I went through counseling myself while reading this book. I definitely learned some things about mental and behavioral health issues.

Did I mention that it is a great story as well? Read this book!

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcefire Books for a free eARC of this book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.   

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Castle School (for Troubled Girls). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

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2 thoughts on “The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog #NetGalley

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