Title: The Truants
Author: Kate Weinberg
Publication Date: Paperback – 1st June 2020
People disappear when they most want to be seen.
Jess Walker, middle child of a middle class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour.
Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
The Truants was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I am pleased to report it completely lived up to my high expectations. The story follows Jess Walker, a first year university student, who has decided to attend that specific university to be able to study under her idol, author Lorna Clay. Jess becomes embroiled in a small friendship group involving Alec, an enigmatic journalist, Nick, a kind fellow student and Georgie, her new best friend. The dynamic between these young people and their relationship with Lorna is what moves this fantastic novel along and into mystery, tragedy, betrayal and the true cost of becoming remarkable. Add in the running Agatha Christie theme and gorgeous prose and you’ve got yourself one of the best books of 2020.
I was completely entranced by The Truants from the very beginning. It definitely has echoes of The Secret History which appeals to me but it is original and fantastic in it’s own right. There is a tone to this book which worked so beautifully and draws the reader into this intense story of a young woman trying to reconcile who she is with who she desperately wants to be. There is a creeping sense of foreboding and unease that saturates the story which is, in some ways, a mystery. However The Truants is really many things in one. In a way it is about the power of personality and charisma. Both Alec and Lorna have a mystique and self-possessed quality that places them on a pedestal of sorts in Jess’ mind. She becomes so involved in her infatuation with these two people that she loses any real sense of morality. It’s an incredibly intense and seductive book and I really couldn’t predict where it would end up.
As the plot and complex relationships develop there is also the inclusion of Agatha Christie as the subject of Lorna’s current research and the university class she teaches. The way Weinberg weaves Christie’s life and books into the narrative of The Truants is subtle and intelligent. It adds another intriguing dimension to the book and made me consider Christie in a whole new way. I honestly don’t have a single bad word to say about this book. It is so clever, so beautifully written and is one of those books I know I’ll read again and again. The Truants is captivating, thought provoking and poses the question of whether being memorable and extraordinary is more important than being honest and kind. Highly recommend.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.