Hello lovelies! Today I am so excited to share with you my review of The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel! I’ll be sharing my spoiler-free review of this phenomenal YA book along with 15 reactions I had while reading it! This post is part of TBRandBeyondTours blog tour and you can check out the rest of the tour over on their website!
Title: The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death or befriending her fellow students.
On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.
Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief―and the real reasons her parents sent her away.
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Trigger Warnings: This book deals with many topics that may be triggering for readers including: death of a loved one, grieving, self-harm, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, addiction, mentions of past drug and alcohol abuse and mentions of an off-page sexual assault.
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) is an incredibly insightful book that explores grief and the difficulties of moving forward, rather than moving on.
I want to make it clear that while this was a difficult book to read, I also think it is an incredibly important book.
Sheinmel discusses topics including grief, addiction, self-harm, depression, eating disorders and more with grace, care and empathy, but these are still topics that readers may find very triggering. Because of that I do think readers should use caution when picking up this book, and should do what’s best for them and their health when deciding whether or not to read this one.
The de-stigmatization of mental illness is an ongoing process and I think this book can be a helpful resource as part of that discussion.
In terms of the writing, pacing and character development Sheinmel has written a book that is impossible to put down. The characters are interesting and full of depth. The pacing is perfect, making this a quick read without feeling rushed. One of my favorite things about this book is the setting. Moria references fairytales and alternate dimensions several times throughout the book, often discussing how the Castle School (or the other mysterious school) feels like another world/reality. I think this is a great metaphor for mental health and how many people process grief and trauma.
My only wish for this book is that we had learned more about the second mysterious all boys school. Not because that school needed to be more developed or present within this book, but simply because Sheinmel has done such a phenomenal job with the Castle School that Moria ‘attends’.
15 Reactions While Reading:
- Okay sending my daughter away because she’s grieving would not have been my first idea to help her.
- A mysterious red head has entered the chat.
- Oh cool there’s no cell service. But the students can still call their families…right?
- How has no one checked the locks on the windows?
- Guys it’s winter, why are you wondering through the woods at night? I get wanting to escape but this seems like a bad idea.
- Oh good! Another mysterious school in the middle of nowhere–what could go wrong?
- God I hate group therapy sessions.
- Slowly learning about the other students, that’s probably a good thing.
- Well these guys seem super chill. What are they up too?
- Well that escalated quickly.
- Okay this doctor actually seems to know what he’s doing.
- Oh sweetie.
- Well that escalated quickly.
- I can’t imagine having two psychologists as parents.
- *Feelings of content sadness*
Alyssa was born in Stanford, California, and even though she moved across the country to New York when she was six years old, she still thinks of herself as a California girl.
She still remembers the very first chapter book she ever read—The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, by Judy Blume. Before long, reading was her favorite thing in the world. She loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, she wrote my own stories just to give herself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, she just made up stories in her head.
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Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour on TBRandBeyondTours and over on instagram too!