All Boarded Up

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

All Boarded Up

Boarding school stories for young adult readers

Novels set in boarding school are perfect for the reader who may care for realistic stories over science fiction and fantasy but still want a good dose of escapism.  Although most of the books here fall under contemporary or realistic fiction, the boarding schools almost feel like separate worlds.  Each of these institutions has a history and characters whose stories long to be told.  These novels are written for a young adult audience but can be enjoyed by adult readers as well.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Taylor Markham’s mother abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road years ago.  Now Taylor goes to the Jellicoe School where she is a leader among her peers.  Jonah Griggs is the leader of the Cadets who spend each summer near Jellicoe.  Jellicoe students, the Cadets, and the Townies carry out the tradition of fighting a territory war each year.  One day, Hannah, the only adult Taylor trusts, disappears suddenly, leaving behind only a manuscript about five kids who once lived on the Jellicoe Road.  Taylor wants to find Hannah, and Jonah is willing to help, but it means they both have to confront their secrets and pasts.  With its complex plot and emotional tension, Jellicoe Road is a must read.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is reluctant to spend her senior year of high school away from her friends in Atlanta and at the School of America in Paris, until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Soon Anna and St. Clair find themselves venturing all over Paris with their friends Rashmi, Josh, and Meredith.  St. Clair has a girlfriend, but Anna can’t help but fall for him and the city of Paris harder and harder.  Will Anna find true love before the year is over?  Anna and the French Kiss is perfect for anyone who wants a boarding school story filled with romance and swoons.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
When Frankie attends Alabaster Preparatory Academy as a freshman, where her father Senior went, she is known to her family as Bunny Rabbit.  She is a member of the Debate Club.  Frankie doesn’t stand out and doesn’t cause trouble.  When she returns as a sophomore, she is curvy. She is sharp-witted. She is dating handsome, popular Matthew Livingston.  Frankie could settle and just be happy, but Matthew keeps sneaking away to attend meetings of an all-male secret society that Senior once belonged to.  Frankie likes Matthew, but she wants to be included, and she wants people to stop treating her differently because she’s a girl.  Now Frankie is on a quest to outsmart the boys, even if it means losing everything.  Readers who want an intelligent, funny, feminist story will adore The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

Winger by Andrew Smith
Opportunity Hall is the name of the dormitory for troublemakers at Pine Mountain school, and it is where fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West lives.  To complicate matters, Ryan lives with the biggest bully on the rugby team and is in love with his best friend, Annie.  Ryan tries to stay out of trouble as he plays rugby, goes running, and draws comics, but when tragedy strikes, Ryan must finally choose who and what he stands by.  Pick up Winger if you want to laugh out loud on one page and cry on the next. 

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Although Lee Fiora has a happy family in Indiana, she finds herself drawn to red brick buildings and preppy sweaters in the brochures for Ault School in Massachusetts.  Lee is smart enough to attend, but there is one major difference between her and her classmates: Lee is on scholarship.  Lee starts off as a misfit freshman year, but by her senior year, her shrewd judgments and observations have helped her climb to the top of the social ladder.  Can Lee stay on top, or will the truth catch up to her?  Prep is for audiences who want a coming of age story that also comments on social class.

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
In 1960s Alaska there are no high schools where Luke lives, so he and his brothers Bunna and Isaac are sent away to Sacred Heart School, a Catholic boarding school.  Luke is used to being with his family, but at Sacred Heart, kids separate themselves into three groups: Indian, Eskimo, and White.  The only language anyone is allowed to speak is English and Father Mullen is quick to act as a disciplinarian.  Luke and the other students at Sacred Heart must learn how to survive and stay true to their heritage.  My Name is Not Easy is excellent if you want a historical novel  that delves into issues of race and family.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall isn’t your average boarding school novel. It’s an institution that Prodigium such as vampires, faeries, shapeshifters, or witches like Sophie Mercer can attend.  Sophie Mercer was sent to Hex Hall as a punishment for unwittingly revealing her powers in front of her human classmates and teachers.  Within a few days, Sophie has a vampire roommate and fellow witches as her enemies.  As if her new life isn’t hard enough, she soon uncovers a threat that endangers everyone at Hex Hall.  If you like your boarding school stories with more of a paranormal twist, Hex Hall is the book for you.