It's never easy to read about sexism or sexual assault, particularly involving rich, entitled young men who believe they're above the law, but Kiely's story is a thought-provoking read. Before he was a full-time writer, Kiely taught in elite prep schools, so he understands the culture he's exploring and writes believably about the insider perspective (legacies, athletes, and kids whose parents pay full freight), as well as the outsider points of view (outcasts, misfits, and scholarship kids). Jules isn't typically likable, but she's incredibly fierce and opinionated -- as is Aileen, an artist the boys nickname "the Viking" as a wink wink to all of her conquests. Jamie is earnest and conflicted about whether to rock the boat as a scholarship athlete who's supposed to keep his head on the ice and in the game -- and possibly on hooking up with girls, but NOT on being the "campus femiNazis" ally and friend.
Kiely has emerged as a true talent in contemporary, issues-based young adult fiction, and Tradition doesn't disappoint. There's no predictable love story as you might expect in a co-ed, dual point of view narrative, and that's actually quite refreshing. Jamie and Jules' connection is based in friendship, not the possibility of romance. There is romance in the overall story, but it's secondary to the main plot. This is a book that will make readers think and wonder what they'd do at Fullbrook -- stand with Jules, Jamie, and company, or go along with the flow with the popular and conforming teens?