Then the book shifts. We see the same events from the viewpoint of Karen twenty years later. She was another student who stayed behind the scenes. After a successful career as an executive assistant and organizer, she returns home to the city where they all grew up. David is back in town also, working now as a producer and director. Sarah has become an author and has a hugely successful book out. When Karen reconnects with Sarah at an author signing in Los Angeles, their reminiscences lead to Sarah agreeing to come to the debut of David's next play, which Karen is starring in. What happens there is surprising yet in some ways long overdue.
This novel won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. It explores the relationships between teenagers with their overheated dramatic friendships. It also delves into the trust that teachers demand from their students and how easily that trust can be abused. Although none of the characters are particularly easy to relate with, their stories are fascinating and show the power of friendship and betrayal. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.