Jeffrey Salane has created an action-packed book for tweens with his new novel, Lawless. Although the book has multiple settings, the story largely occurs in the southern hemisphere atLawlessSchool, a private and exclusive school for the children of master criminals. The story’s protagonist is twelve-year-old M Freeman, whose doting dad gave her the moon but is now dead and has remained a beautiful mystery for six years. M’s mother, an impeccably stylish artist mogul and unstoppable workhorse has little time for M. Home-schooled and living in a house the size of a small castle, M feels neither like a princess nor a prisoner. Instead, she mostly feels alone. However, everything familiar about M’s life changes when she is interviewed for a position at Lawless School and gets accepted. Lawless students attend the school as trainees for the shadowy underworld—trained “to never surrender, to never succumb, and to never let the self-proclaimed ‘good guys’ win” (78). Their adversaries, the Fulbrights, hope to thwart the criminals.
Despite the honor among thieves, M doesn’t know whom to trust among these mysterious strangers occupying her new home, where crazy is the new normal. Every dangerously fun class offers a new adventure, mystery, challenge, or predicament. Until she learns the lay of the land, M plans to lie low, but that plan backfires—sabotaged when M survives a Fulbright ambush, flies a plane, crashes the commencement, and draws the headmaster’s attention for her super-smart tactics. Threatened with expulsion for intolerable destruction and confused by the school’s cliques—the Crimers, the Gossips, the Shadows, the Muscle, the Cops, the Idents, and the Smooth Criminals—M worries she’ll never find her niche. Although the notorious M soon forms friendships with Cal Fence, Merlyn Eaves, and Jules Byrd, something about Devon Zoso and Zara Smith remains untrustworthy and distant. When M discovers her father once attended Lawless School as one of its Masters, M’s confusion intensifies until she’s determined to put together the missing pieces of her father and to fill in the blank spaces of her own past.
On her identity-discovery and mystery-unraveling journey, M realizes not only that paths less traveled often lead to unimaginable places but also that the world isn’t black and white or good versus evil; it is “complicated, dizzying, and draining” (276).
- Posted by Donna