The Headmaster's List

Melissa De la Cruz, 1971-

Book - 2023

Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval goes to dangerous lengths to uncover the truth about a fatal car crash and its relation to her school's honor roll.

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult New Shelf YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Delacruz Melissa (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 1, 2023
Detective and mystery fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
School fiction
New York : Roaring Brook Press 2023.
Main Author
Melissa De la Cruz, 1971- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
392 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 14-18.
Grades 10-12.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

After leaving a party, four teens get into a car crash that results in traumatic injuries and death in this riveting mystery by de la Cruz (Going Dark). Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval, an astronaut hopeful with plans to attend Caltech, is a top student and on the coveted Headmaster's List at her elite L.A. prep school. Following the accident--which involved über-popular Christopher Moore, who was killed in the crash; classmate Tabby Hill; and ex-boyfriend Ethan Amoroso--Spencer wakes up in the hospital with serious injuries and few memories of the party. She's given a service dog named Ripley and assigned a student aide, Ethan's best friend Jackson Chen, to help her take notes in class. As she and Jackson grow closer, rumors claiming that Ethan was responsible for the crash begin circulating. Spencer and Jackson decide to investigate the incident, hoping to prove Ethan's innocence, especially as an even more concerning rumor comes to light: that the crash was actually a premeditated murder. Employing familiar prep school tropes, de la Cruz renders an invigorating thriller populated by well-rounded characters and teeming with anticipatory tension. Character descriptions imply racial diversity throughout. Ages 14--up. (Feb.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Four teens are in a car crash that leaves one of them dead and badly injures another. Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval is an ambitious overachiever who, unlike some of her more privileged peers, has worked ceaselessly to secure a spot on the coveted headmaster's list at her predominantly White Los Angeles prep school. Serious physical injuries are the less troublesome parts of the trauma Spencer sustains from the crash, however--she also experiences traumatic flashbacks about the accident, all the more upsetting because she can't remember much from the night it occurred. The third-person narration and Spencer's continued Vicodin use lend themselves well to sustaining the tension, with transcripts from a true-crime podcast created by a fellow Armstrong Prep student interspersed throughout. When Spencer teams up with Jackson Chen, her ex-boyfriend Ethan Amoroso's best friend, in an effort to find out the truth about the accident, they develop a relationship that will pull in romance fans. Unsubtle foreshadowing may lead to readers' working out pieces of the mystery before Spencer does. Still, some original details, such as the presence of Ripley, a service dog given to Spencer, add to this story's appeal. Ethnically ambiguous Spencer is described as brown with immigrant parents; names cue ethnic diversity in several secondary characters. A twisty thriller with a likable and complicated protagonist. (Thriller. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.