The Last Boy at St. Edith's

Book review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
The Last Boy at St. Edith's Book Poster Image
Fun tale of boy at all-girls' school great for girls & boys.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lengthy, well-written chapter book an easy hook for middle school readers, even reluctant ones. Gives a glimpse of life at an all-girls' school.

Positive Messages

Sometimes, trying to fit in can make you stand out in ways you never imagined. Even if you're a boy who doesn't have many men to look up to, the women around you can help you grow and develop into the man you want to become.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While Jeremy is in the midst of his middle school crisis, his bright friends and hardworking single mother provide guidance and positive examples for him to follow, despite his lack of a male role model.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lee Gjertsen Malone's The Last Boy At St. Edith's is a fun, lighthearted middle grade novel about a boy trying desperately to get kicked out of the all-girls' prep school he finds himself trapped in. While his pranks inevitably escalate out of control, Jeremy's struggle to belong is relatable and relevant, especially as boy-girl friendships have become increasingly common and important in the lives of modern middle schoolers.

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What's the story?

THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH'S, the middle-grade debut of journalist and author Lee Gjertsen Malone, tells the story of middle schooler Jeremy Miner, the final male student at a ritzy Western Massachusetts prep school that tried and failed to make its student body coed. When the other remaining boy transfers out at the beginning of seventh grade, Jeremy feels condemned to spend the next two years as the ultimate outsider, the only Y chromosome in a world full of girls and women. With an absentee father and no guy friends, Jeremy isn't sure if he knows how to become a man, and so he sets out on a plan to pull pranks with his friend Claudia until he gets expelled and, presumably, sent to a coed school where he can fit in and be "one of the guys." Along the way he begins to realize the value of the women in his life and that his status as the only boy around is actually pretty cool, especially when he starts to see it all slipping away from him as the pranks get more and more serious.

Is it any good?

This charming, playful, and exciting novel is a breezy page-turner that's perfectly suited for middle school readers. This age is tough for different kids for different reasons, but Jeremy's story is universal because it grapples with the feeling young people often have that they don't belong where they are, and if they could only be somewhere else with new people, everything would be better. Jeremy's friends are strong and dynamic female characters who prove to him that even though he doesn't have many men to look up to, the women around him can help him grow and develop into the man he wants to become.

Brief interjections from the gossip blog Prep School Confidential serve as entertaining interludes throughout the novel, offering a glimpse into the modern middle school experience, which is intertwined with social media and the Internet rumor mill. The book is a solid read for both boys and girls, as it provides interesting windows into the preteen mindset of both genders as they haphazardly try to find their place in a rapidly changing social dynamic. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the politics of pranks. When does a prank stop being funny and become hurtful or dangerous? How does social media affected the way pranks are conducted, recorded, and shared? 

  • The book is peppered with news reports from the Prep School Confidential blog, which is widely read by the students, parents, and administrators in Jeremy's town. Do you know of any similar websites or social networks that spread gossip and rumors? 

  • What do you think about single-gender schools? What are the advantages and disadvantages, particularly during middle school, of being surrounded exclusively by kids of your own gender?

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