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The Swallows

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,440 ratings  ·  470 reviews
From the author of The Passenger—hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “a dead-serious thriller (with a funny bone)”—and the bestselling Spellman Files series comes a suspenseful novel about a new teacher at a not-so-elite boarding school who accidentally incites a gender war among the students and staff.

When Alexandra Witt arrives at Stonebridge Academy and insists
Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Titan Books (first published August 13th 2019)
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  • The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
    The Swallows
    Release date: Aug 13, 2020
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    Giveaway dates: Sep 12 - Sep 22, 2019

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    Community Reviews

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    3.71  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,440 ratings  ·  470 reviews

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    Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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 wa
    Jessica Woodbury
    May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: arc
    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
    Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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 a ...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
    Liz Barnsley
    Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Lynne Lambdin
    Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    The Swallows takes on gender roles and tackles them in a prep school setting. New teacher Ms. Witt realizes something unsavory is going on and wants to help put an end to it. The Swallows starts out incredibly strong and had me hooked instantly. Unfortunately, around the middle my interest started to wane and the plot started to lose me. There a few different perspectives in this one which keep the pages turning but could have probably done with 100 less pages somewhere in the middle.

    Thank you
    Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Susan Johnson
    Jul 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Lisa Aiello
    Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: thriller
    3.5 stars. This one took me too long to finish, and by the end, I was just wanting to get it over with. That's not to say that the story itself and writing weren't good, because they absolutely were. There were just so many characters - I had to write them down with little notes as to who was who, because I wasn't sure who was going to turn out to be important. And they all were. They all played a part.

    So, this is the story of what goes on behind the walls of Stonebridge Academy, and private boa
    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
    Books about spoiled, rich kids at boarding school are a dime a dozen. I was hoping that with her whip-smart writing and dark humor Lisa Lutz would provide a new take on this familiar setting. While entertaining, "The Swallows" didn't quite deliver the way it should have.

    The crux of the plot revolves around prep school boys compiling a database of their female peers' sexual aptitude, and said girls' retaliation upon discovering the database. While the book seems like it was set up to be suspensef
    Michelle Scott
    Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: arcs, 2019-reads
    The Swallows is a complex book full of memorable characters and dynamic plot threads that all come together in a heart-stopping ending.
    I’ll admit that I wasn’t sold at the beginning. For starters, there were a lot of characters to remember. The story takes place at a New England boarding school, and there are plenty of students’ and teachers’ names to remember. Also, the beginning - although interesting - moved a little slowly. However, by the fourth chapter, I was hooked.
    Once the story gained m
    You can also find my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

    I don't read many contemporary novels, but this book looked especially compelling. Before reading I had seen some reviews that warned that the book shouldn't be taken too seriously and that it was over the top. I can definitely agree with those statements. The subject matter of The Swallows initially lead me to believe that this would be a hard hitting novel about feminism and a powerful read, while it was a feminist novel
    Alison Hardtmann
    Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    Tensions are high in Lisa Lutz's new novel. Alex Witt takes a job teaching creative writing at an expensive Vermont boarding school because her family's friendship with the Headmaster means her recent past won't be looked into, but finds that her secrets pale in comparison to the ones the boys are keeping. And once the girls start to figure things out, it might just take down the entire school.

    This is the kind of book where it's important to start reading early enough in the day that you won't
    JULIE ☼
    I'm SO sad to give a book penned by Lisa Lutz a 2-star rating. Full review to come.
    Nerdette Podcast
    Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Boarding school + boys being boys + feminist fury = [fire emoji]
    Angie Boyter
    Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    A well-told suspenseful story with a timely message
    Alexandra Witt arrives at her new job teaching at Stonebridge Academy, a private boarding school, and is immediately thrown a bit off kilter, when the class schedule she is given on the first day of class consists of a completely different set of courses than the ones she had been asked to teach. Then she finds a dead rat in her desk drawer, which she soon realizes was an omen more than an aberration. The social hierarchy at Stonebridge is ruled
    Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I enjoyed every second of this darkly comic and anger inducing story. I like Lisa Lutz. She has a point of view and she doesn’t care about conforming to a particular genre (is it a thriller? Is it a satire? Is it a literary fiction? All of the above) and it makes her books interesting to read. I was fascinated by all the characters and would have been interested to read more about them.
    I had mixed feelings about the ending, but it didn’t mar the overall experience. A satisfying and timely read
    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 on ...more
    Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    TW: sexual coercion, child abuse, violence, sexual assault

    Firstly I would like to thank Titan Books for gifting me with an ARC copy of this book for review; although I was gifted this book all opinion discussed here are my own.

    I was so intrigued by this book mostly because of the tagline "girls will be girls" and it did not disappoint. This is a real contemporary story with a mix of almost psychological thriller; what these girls experience really encases it into a psychological thriller. Looki
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    Addicted to YA: The Swallows Giveaway! 32 81 Jul 15, 2019 10:12AM  
    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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    “I wished I were a snake, so I could crawl out of my skin.” 0 likes
    “The girl was confused. It was a misunderstanding. That's all.
    What was the crux of the misunderstanding?
    She didn't say no.”
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