Thank you for hosting, Kristin!
Like the main character in THE LAST ACADEMY, I left home for boarding school when I was fourteen. The school I attended was prestigious. There were kids who spoke four languages, who had last names you’d recognize as major labels, who had IQ scores that made the local paper.
Me? Not so much. Most of my life had been nomadic. My parents came up with the whole boarding school plan so I’d have four years in the same educational system. To this day, I’m convinced the school took me because my home address was from a state not yet represented in the alumni letter. So basically, the one thing that made me special enough to get in was not about me at all.
By the first week of classes, I’d discovered that in comparison to my classmates, most everything about me was completely unimpressive. By sophomore year, I was white knuckling it through the days, sure that my place in the world was watching other people live large while I could only hope to ride the coattails.
Anyway, the school would host a formal dinner followed by a presentation every week. Once, it was announced that David Crosby, alumnus, would give a private concert for the students. Campus was on fire with the news. I didn’t know much about the guy, except that he’d been a rock deity in the sixties. To me, his resume seemed typical of a graduate of our school.
At dinner before the concert, I overheard a teacher uneasily mention that David Crosby hadn’t technically graduated from our school. He’d been expelled, receiving his diploma via correspondence. It’s hard to explain the amount of pearl clutching that idea generated.
When we got to the theater, the stage was not set up for a rock band. No wild strobe lights, flashy dancers, or fog machines. There was nothing but a middle aged guy, a chair, a guitar, and a glass of water. In my mind, I was still trying to put together two incomprehensible ideas: David Crosby was kicked out of our school. And he still went on to be successful. That’s when I realized I was terrified that if I didn’t make it in high school, I was never going to make it anywhere. The person standing on stage was living, breathing, Rolling Stone Cover gracing proof my fears weren’t true.
We took our seats and this crazy thing happened. Crosby started to speak. His eyes darted to his shoes, he mumbled into the microphone, and cleared his throat. He ducked to his glass and took a quick sip of water. Of all the stages this guy had stood on in his career, he was nervous to be at his old high school. Maybe like me, afraid that if he didn’t do well, the earth would open up and swallow him whole.
Then he began to sing. His voice was so beautiful, the audience fell completely still. I had this contradictory epiphany that changed everything.
I thought: This guy has completely escaped high school.
At the same time, I thought: No matter how far he goes, part of him is still trapped here.
It was the first time it occurred to me that I could follow my own path, not the one laid out for me. Before that night, I’d assumed stepping off course meant dropping into darkness, to certain death, never to find my way again. It was better to be last than to be lost. That night, I was set free. But at the same time, I understood no matter what I did, part of me would always be trapped at school.
As I wrote Camden, I kept going back to that night in my head, hoping to catch the surreal feeling of being both freed and caught at the same time. For me, that place is what high school was all about, and what I wanted to talk about in THE LAST ACADEMY.
If you are interested in more deets on THE LAST ACADEMY, you can find a hidden page by going to the address www.anneapplegate.com/secret
Synopsis via Goodreads
Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP meets THE SIXTH SENSE in this spine-tingling, unforgettable debut.
Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam--and readers--stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.
Release date: May 1st 2013
About the Author
Anne Applegate was born in Chico, California. Most of her childhood was spent moving across America with her family, nomad style.