What would you do if you suspected you and your classmates won a contest because of cheating? This is the question at the heart of Cheating Lessons by Nan Willard Cappo.
The novel follows Bernadette, a high school student with an above average intelligence who routinely judges her classmates, with the exception of her best friend, Nadine, and mostly finds them wanting. After Bernadette, Nadine, and some of their AP English classmates score high enough on a written exam to beat their rival school, posh Pinehurst, and gain entry to the Classics Bowl, Bernadette wonders how it’s possible they could have obtained a high enough score because she knows she guessed on many questions and that some of her classmates just weren’t smart enough. With her suspicions doused by her favorite teacher and crush, Mr. Malory, Bernadette and her team concentrate on obtaining as much knowledge as they can before the Bowl, even if it means reading a comic book version of Tom Jones and watching video versions of books.
“She would be more tolerant of books about bums. She would consider their circumstances, read what they had to say for themselves—and then hope they got killed off in the end.”
Cheating Lessons is an engrossing and frequently witty read about a young woman’s coming to terms with intelligence and integrity within herself and those close to her whom she idolizes and loves. Her black and white way of seeing the world is tested and, by the end, she recognizes that seeing the world in shades of gray is sometimes necessary.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult novels, stories about characters who must overcome their flaws, and characters who strive to do right and who are left trying to figure out exactly what that is.
NetGalley provided me with an ARC for an honest review.
This book was originally published in 2002 and will be republished on May 10, 2016.
From Amazon: Cheating Lessons
rating: (4 butterflies and a ladybug, as I am morally opposed to halving a butterfly)