Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Synopsis: When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, 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 odd 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 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 is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief—and the real reasons her parents sent her away.
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) was not what I was expecting, which was more along the lines of another boarding school mystery that’s so popular in YA fiction. Instead, it’s a thoughtful exploration of various mental health disorders in teen girls. The students of the Castle School suffer from a myriad of illnesses: cutting, selective mutism, depression, kleptomania, trichotillomania (obsessive hair pulling), and alcoholism. While most of the story is focused on Moira, each of her fellow classmates have their own chapters which briefly relate what led them to the point where they wound up at the school. This is the strongest part of the book. The so-called “mystery” of why there are two schools is superfluous and actually detracts from what the characters are going through, and I wish the author had simply stuck to the main theme of the story. Despite this, I think The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) would be a solid choice for YA book discussion groups.