What Has Become of You
By Jan Elizabeth Watson
(Dutton Adult, Hardcover, 9780525954378, 352pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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What if a teacher’s most promising pupil is also her most dangerous? A tautly plotted psychological thriller, as intelligent as it is mesmerizing
What Has Become of You follows Vera Lundy, an aspiring crime writer and master of self-deprecation who, like many adults, has survived adolescence but hasn’t entirely overcome it. When she agrees to fill in for a private school English teacher on maternity leave, teaching The Catcher in the Rye to privileged girls, Vera feels in over her head. The students are on edge, too, due to the recent murder of a local girl close to their age.
Enter Jensen Willard. At fifteen she’s already a gifted writer but also self-destructive and eerily reminiscent of Vera’s younger self. As the two outcasts forge a tentative bond, a sense of menace enfolds their small New England town. When another student, new to the country, is imperiled by her beliefs, Vera finds herself in the vortex of dangerand suspicion.
With the threat of a killer at large, the disappearance of her increasingly worri-some pupil, and her own professional reputation at stake, Vera must thread her way among what is right by the law, by her students, and by herself. In this poignant page-turner, populated with beguiling characters and sharp social insights, coming-of-age can happen no matter how old you are.
JAN ELIZABETH WATSON received her MFA from Columbia University. Her first novel, Asta in the Wings, was published by Tin House Books, a small literary press. She lives in Maine.
Praise for What Has Become of You
"A shivery thriller" - New York Times Book Review
"There are several reasons to recommend this book, not the least of which is the intricacy of the plot, which doesn't twist so much as winds and loops in ways that even if one may predict where it will go, the how is still surprising." - The Associated Press
"Watson's twisty plot speeds with page-turning momentum, but what's likely to stick with you are the complex characters...who are, by turns, vulnerable, flawed, and surprising, bravely struggling to rewrite the stories of their lives." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A precocious teenager. A teacher who can't quite grow up. What Has Become of You is a suspenseful and tightly plotted thriller, filled with vivid and memorable characters, each with her own compelling voice." –Alafair Burke, author of If You Were Here, Long Gone, and the Ellie Hatcher series
“What has Become of You could be used as a manual for teachers of adolescents: beware of the dangers of overwork, of identity loss, of the mistrust of authority. Jan Elizabeth Watson, our poet of the macabre, has written a moving, page-turning, and ultimately terrifying account of a few months in a great teacher’s life. I’ll never trust a teenager again!” --Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants and The Remedy for Love
“It takes a lot to creep me out--I spent my youth reading Stephen King under the covers--but Jan Elizabeth Watson has more than succeeded in this gripping literary thriller. Part gloss on The Catcher in the Rye, part millennial The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, What Has Become of You is that rare beast: a page-turner that asks dark, difficult questions about the state of contemporary American society.” –Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
“The power of What Has Become of You sneaks up on you, until you are turning the pages compulsively. Give yourself over to it. You’re in the hands of an expert." –Rebecca Goldstein, author of The Mind-Body Problem and Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction
“A thriller that is both smart and daring. My advice, readers: Strap on your seatbelts, and remember to lean into the curves. What Has Become of You is one heck of a ride.” --Adam Braver, author of November 22, 1963 and Mr. Lincoln’s Wars
“What Has Become of You is a gripping psychological exploration of the teacher-student relationship, and a very scary mystery, too. This is a satisfying and rewarding novel, and an important one, by a very skilled storyteller.” --Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter and The Raising
“A thrilling, yet thoughtful look at the violence, both emotional and physical, that haunts the lives of teenage girls. She captures the desires and rage of the high school students and their seemingly prim teacher in a story that's suspenseful, insightful and often very witty… The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie meets Mean Girls." --Rebecca Godfrey author of The Torn Skirt and Under the Bridge
"With a delicate touch and a quiet confidence, Jan Elizabeth Watson delivers a suspenseful and intricately drawn tale of a small New England town. Her characters will haunt readers long after the last page is turned." --Lori Roy, winner of the Edgar Award for Bent Road and finalist for Until She Comes Home
PRAISE FOR JAN ELIZABETH WATSON AND ASTA IN THE WINGS
“A vivid and suspenseful narrative.”
– Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World and Criminals
“Her voice is unforgettable. . . . The novel rachets up an almost uncomfortable level of suspense.”
– The Christian Science Monitor
“Full of the wonderment and matter-of-factness of youth, and her eye-opening trip into reality is flawlessly executed.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Extraordinary debut novel . . . A cleverly constructed, beautifully written first novel from a gifted new writer.”
– Booklist (starred review)