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The Swallows

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  5,887 ratings  ·  1,211 reviews
A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than t
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  5,887 ratings  ·  1,211 reviews

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Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A new teacher at a third-rate boarding school assigns to her creative writing students the task of answering what appear to be innocent questions. The answers reveal much more than she anticipated not only about the students themselves but about hidden activities occurring at the school. Cleverly done, with a powerful message this novel is amusing as well as uncomfortable. What bothered me most was that a friend’s son spoke of a similar situation at his high school so despite the humor contained ...more

this book is campy and silly while dealing with some very serious subject matter and all those earnest hand-wringing folks will likely ask if this is what we “need” right now as a society, but today—seduced by the unexpected option—i bought lavender-scented roach spray, and now i will forever associate bug-extermination with vaporized grannies, so there are a lot of things we do not need as a society, but which make unpleasant things just a little bit weirder. and that’s what this
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 stars, rounded up

I was a huge fan of Lutz’s The Passenger and the entire Spellman series. While the Spellman books were all just great fun, The Passenger showed she had the chops to do an intriguing, serious mystery.

With The Swallows, we get something different again. Alex Witt arrives at a New England boarding school thinking she’s going to teach English Lit, but gets handed creative writing instead. This isn't some posh school, it seems to be more half baked than serious. And what a cast
Chelsea Humphrey
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Dang it. Honestly, it pains me to give this one anything less than a stellar review, as Lisa Lutz is one of my favorite authors, and I credit her Spellman Files series to getting me out of a multi-year reading slump. All that to say, please take this review with a grain of salt, and know full well that I could be the outlier here, due to the fact that I know she can write the heck out of a story.

Perhaps the fact that this one felt so off base from her previous works is what threw me off initial
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Although painful to read in some places, due to the horrific actions of a few, this was an amazing book. Clearly 5⭐️ for me!

The message it brings to light is similar to the new form of hazing/bullying that is greatly magnified with social media. But the story is much deeper than the flippant “technology is bad” philosophy. By the end of the story, we learn the origins of the behavior and compliance of many adults, are what has allowed this culture to continue.

This was a fast paced novel and I w
Jessica Woodbury
At the beginning of this book I thought, "Okay, this clearly takes place in a fictional universe of boarding school novels where we have dropped all pretense that anything in it is real or related to real life." And I was willing to suspend my disbelief for that. Boarding school novels can be campy fun or dark microcosms of teenage misbehavior. I'm down for that. This is a school where the staff is made up of *checks notes* six adults while there are 400 students, though we only ever meet about ...more
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
"Boys will be boys."  I've heard it all my life and wager that you have, too.  It's a poor excuse for some of the behavior taking place at Stonebridge Academy.  The Darkroom.  It's not dark enough to obscure the nasty goings-on there, nor the resultant fallout.  A point will be reached when the truth no longer matters, and any lies told are for one's own good.  It's high time for a reckoning, and the girls here are sick to death of behaving like proper young ladies. ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The axe forgets, but the tree remembers. African Proverb

I’ve long been a fan of Lutz’ work. I laughed through her Spellman series, enjoyed her cleverness in The Last Word and The Passenger was a wild ride in thriller territory. But this one seems to take everything from all of those previous, the humor, the ingenuity and suspense and raises the bar. This is a revenge story for our times.

You can keep telling girls to be polite, to keep a level head and it’ll all work out in the end. But don’
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

4.5 Stars

“Non ducor, duco. I am not led. I lead.”

In what has become a season of mediocre reactions and wrongreading, allow me to take a moment for a book that made me say . . . . .

Lisa Lutz is an author who has been on my radar basically since I became active on Goodreads, but one I avoided in fear of disappointing my Goodreads friends (I did finally buy The Spellman Files a couple of weeks ago when I found it at HPB clearan
Katie B
4.5 stars

Lisa Lutz was already one of my favorite authors, and this book just further cemented her status. It's her most thought-provoking novel yet. This book stirs up emotions and makes you think which is always a winning combination.

Alexandra Witt takes on a position as a creative writing teacher at Stonebridge Academy. She's curious about something called the Darkroom and starts investigating as it sounds super shady. She soon learns some of the female students aren't too happy with the att
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This little gem, set in a private north-eastern co-ed boarding school, manages to merge the overtly sexual focus of hormonal teenage boys, with the insecurity of teenage girls and the consequences of no adult supervision. The result is a maelstrom of angst that results in violence that any attentive teacher or administrator should have seen coming from a mile away.

The plot focuses on a group of over-indulged, privileged boys who rate the performance of eager-to-please teenage girls as they drop
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Having read and enjoyed a book by Lisa Lutz before I was really expecting to really enjoy The Swallows however that really didn’t turn out to be the case. Just picking this one up I began thinking it has a bit of an identity problem as it felt like a cross between an adult novel and a young adult read.

The main character in The Swallows is actually an adult, Alexandra Witt, who has found herself in the position of needing a new teaching job. This brings Ms. Witt to Stonebridge Academy where after
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
The Swallows takes a look at the sexual antics taking place at a small private school. Antics that are allowed to continue even as underage girls are rated and shamed and end up leaving the school when the hoard decides to turn on them. It’s pretty awful stuff and the title is exactly what you might think it is as well as a little something more.

All the things get stirred up when a new teacher arrives at the school. She has the teens fill out an anonymous questionnaire and notices some disturbi
Susan Johnson
Jul 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
OMG! My eyeballs need a good cleaning as I struggled to finish this book. I got 60% done and I literally could read no more. I read more about oral sex than I ever wanted and the troubles of high school students. This was set in a high school boarding school where a small band of popular male students set up a secret rating system of the oral sex they receive. They even award a secret trophy for the "best" accomplishment.
There is, of course, a teacher that buys them alcohol and a blind eye fro
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I received a complimentary copy from Random House.

This was a thought-provoking and entertaining read and so much more than just a suspense book.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want? This is the writing prompt from Alex Witt, the new creative writing teacher at Stonebridge Academy boarding school. The students answers bring out some disturbing revelations. There’s a social hierarchy at school that involves “The Darkroom.” Ms. Witt unifies the girls at the school into a resistance
May 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
This took me more than a month to finish during a pandemic stay-at-home order. That about sums it up.
2 stars
Krystin Rachel

Book Blog | Bookstagram

Opening Hook: Blow jobs weren’t on the curriculum.
Main Character: Good at flowcharts.
Plot Twisty-ness: Needs some spit on it.

This is a popular read with high ratings on Goodreads from other reviewers, but my overall opinion is basically WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS REALLY DUMB???

I don’t mind being one of only a few people going against the grain here, but honestly, I just can’t even with this book. I had to suspend disbelief in such an extreme way that I started to feel
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my first Lisa Lutz book and I really enjoyed the read. This was so off the wall that I didn't take any of it seriously and just went with it - I don't think the book was meant to be serious although there are some deep-seated male/female issues shining through. You can read the intro to find out what the book it about, but let me tell you what I liked.

I thought the character Alex Witt was badass - her mother was as well so she got it honest. Gemma was a true leader and her decisiveness
I've never read anything by Lisa Lutz, but after devouring The Swallows , I think I may need to catch up on her previous works. When new teacher, Alex Witt, begins her tenure at Stonebridge Academy, she starts noticing some secretive activity between some of her students and the faculty at large. There's mentions of a social hierarchy between student classes—the Ten, as they like to be called are the social elite and there's one for each year in the school. Alex also starts finding out about ...more
Lynne Lambdin
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Let me start this little spiel by praising Lisa Lutz. I've loved her talent for quite some time. Shoot, I am even one of the few who genuinely loved Heads You Lose. Which I still suggest for a fun read on Reddit all the time. And the Spellman series permanently bonded me to Lisa Lutz as a fan. So I went into The Swallows with my hopes so high that your kiss book might kill me like the wise men of Dashboard Confessional once sang. So I guess we can consider me dead because my hopes were butchered ...more
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
Stonebridge Academy has some secrets and the Darkroom is at the heart of it. Alex Witt, who has just joined as a teacher and quickly learns of the all too well known “boys will be boys” phenomena going on. No one has been able to stop it. What will it take and when is enough enough?

I absolutely love Witt’s character. The Blowchart she makes, while you may first giggle at the title comparative to the subject matter, you quickly learn the true meaning and the lesson behind it all. LOVE the final
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This latest by Lutz is gripping, darkly funny, and whip smart. I am a sucker for an isolated college campus populated by people with lots of secrets — delicious and twisty.
Jess | thegreeneyedreader
4/5 - I read an ebook of this very quickly. Lisa Lutz is such a great writer of suspense. I absolutely loved The Passenger, and I’ve been waiting with excitement for this book to be released. This one did not disappoint (even though I still liked The Passenger more).

This book focuses on a dysfunctional prep school for high school aged boys and girls. A group of boys run a (sort of) secret website called The Dark Room that has a secret channel in which they rank girls based on their oral sex per
Kristy K
Jun 09, 2019 marked it as dnf
Shelves: arc, 2019
DNF 45%

I tried for over a month and just couldn't finish. It doesn't help that it sparked my reading slump.

I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. There was a lot of hinting but nothing seemed to come of it. Alex Witt's and Finn's characters both annoyed me and honestly sometimes I couldn't tell their POVs apart.

I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Liz Barnsley
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A toxic ball of nastiness pervades a prep school and it's girls v boys in a twisted yet terrifyingly realistic scenario. Full review near UK publication 10th Sept. ...more
Donna Hines
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
"A sparrow is young and pretty, or that's what they think at first, before they hook up."
This dark, twisty, disturbing, provocative, feminsta of a read will have you second guessing sending your kids to boarding school.
Now I suppose the first question we must ask ourselves as parents:
Whose keeping score? Boys v Girls?
Alexandra Witt was a teacher who ignited a passion for justice and a firestorm literally of action.
"Gaslighting is revenge."
"Boys will be boys"
Girls will do what girls need to
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Swallows was the first book I've read by Lisa Lutz, and I enjoyed it! I loved the boarding school setup.

Although it was an entertaining read, this book was not perfect. There were way too many characters with their own POVs (and some felt unnecessary). I think this could have been a really great story with some editing and tightening of the plot. It did go on for a little bit too long and I began to lose interest. It's almost like this book had all the pieces for an amazing story, but they
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Swallows was ridiculous and over-the-top and I loved it. If you're looking for Sex Education (Netflix) in book form for the #MeToo generation, this is your book. Just make sure you go in wanting a bit of a romp, because I think if taken too seriously, The Swallows won't land. It's a fun book.

It's multi-POV, 1st person with helpful chapter headings to let you know whose POV you're in. I only had to go back to remind myself who I was with once or twice--honestly it's a case where it could have
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
“Memory and reality are like cousins. Best-case scenario, they’re like first cousins. But sometimes they’re the kind of cousins who can marry.”

Yes, friends! That’s a direct quote. Please feel free to laugh out loud like I did. The Swallows, is filled with tons of wittiest, wildness and it even speaks of a few ok- busted many “B.J.’s” but it has no BS.

The Swallows was light, fluffy, youthful read to which you gladly “swallow” rather than spit. But being an adult and a parent it is one that I fin
4.75 stars. Alexandra Witt takes on a creative writing job at a third-rate coed VT boarding school named Stonebridge Academy. Witt must quickly navigate between the staff and students but after her initial anonymous Q & A assignment, she unearths a dark and disturbing secret. Teetering between teacher and ally, Alex finds herself mentoring beyond books. This witty fast paced tale is salacious and yet oh so hard to put down. I loved The Passenger by Lisa Lutz and The Swallows is definitely one of ...more
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Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children's book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for ...more

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“You can keep telling girls to be polite, to keep a level head and it’ll all work out in the end. But don’t be surprised when they figure out that you’ve been feeding them lies.” 6 likes
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” 3 likes
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