The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

January 16, 2018
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Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In this suspenseful, provocative novel of friendship, secrets, and deceit, a successful writer returns to her elite Swiss boarding school to get to the bottom of a tragic accident that took place while she was a student twenty years earlier.

How far would you go to uncover the truth?
One spring night in 1998 the beautiful Cressida Strauss plunges from a fourth-floor balcony at the Lycée Internationale Suisse with catastrophic consequences. Loath to draw negative publicity to the school, a bastion of European wealth and glamour, officials quickly dismiss the incident as an accident, but questions remain: Was it a suicide attempt? Or was Cressida pushed? It was no secret that she had a selfish streak and had earned as many enemies as allies in her tenure at the school. For her best friend, scholarship student Kersti Kuusk, the lingering questions surrounding Cressida's fall continue to nag long after she leaves the Lycée.

Kersti marries and becomes a bestselling writer, but never stops wondering about Cressida's obsession with the Helvetian Society—a secret club banned years before their arrival at the school—and a pair of its members who were expelled. When Kersti is invited as a guest to the Lycée's 100th Anniversary, she begins probing the cover-up, unearthing a frightening underbelly of lies and abuse at the prestigious establishment. And in one portentous moment, Kersti makes a decision that will connect her to Cressida forever and raise the stakes dangerously high in her own desire to solve the mystery and redeem her past.

An unputdownable read as clever as it is compelling, The Finishing School offers a riveting glimpse into a privileged, rarefied world in which nothing is as it appears.

*Trigger Warnings: Sexual abuse, child molestation*
Kersti wanted to fit in, from her friends to her family, she wanted to be good enough. At Lycée that was about being friends with Cressida, ruling Huber House with her friends, dating Magnus, marrying someone her parents approved of (someone Estonian), running their family business and final having the big family her parents wanted her to have. From the time of 1995 to 2015, Kersti did not graduate from Lycée, lost her friendship to Cressida, left her friends of Huber House, been rejected by Magnus, married a Jew, got a job as a fiction writer and now is struggling to get pregnant. After Cressida accident, Kersti could not stay at that school longer, so she left, leaving the whole ordeal behind her. Invited to speak as one of the school’s 100 women, Kersti were going to reject it, when an email came to her from her Huber House friend Lilla. Lilla unlocked a door in Kersti mind that she kept shut for years: how could their queen of the world friend, fall from her balcony? Struggling to find the truth of the fall of Cressida, Kersti unlocks the stories of Lycée, and all the dirty secrets she kept hidden.

One thing Joanna Goodman did not tell you what was going to be in this mystery drama story was the sexual abuse. That being said, Goodman still wrote a compelling tale. Kersti herself was a likeable character, always trying to fit in and do the right thing, but her instincts told her not, and that is what made her different. The story shift between present day (2015) in locations of Toronto, Boston and to Lycée, to Kersti memories during her years of school with Cressida at Lycée. The ‘mystery’ was compelling making you read till the very end to find out if Cressida try to kill herself, fell, or was she pushed of the balcony in her dorm room. So strap in as detective Kersti, fueled by the promise she made to her future children, and the idea for a new book, Kersti was going to find out why her friend did what she did, and who was behind it all.

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