Hannah Webber fears she will never be a mother, but her prayers are finally answered when she gives birth to a son. In an era of high-stakes parenting, nurturing Sam’s intellect becomes Hannah’s life purpose. She invests body and soul into his development, much to the detriment of her marriage. She convinces herself, however, that Sam’s acceptance at age fourteen to the most prestigious of New England boarding schools overseen by an illustrious headmaster, justifies her choices.
When he arrives at Dunning, Sam is glad to be out from under his mother’s close watch. And he enjoys his newfound freedom―until, late one night, he stumbles upon evidence of sexual misconduct at the school and is unable to shake the discovery.
Both a coming-of-age novel and a portrait of an evolving mother-son relationship, The Nine is the story of a young man who chooses to expose a corrupt world operating under its own set of rules―even if it means jeopardizing his mother’s hopes and dreams.
The Nine was the perfect book to pick up now that summer is over, and it’s back to work. Blasberg does a fabulous job of introducing and sucking readers into an elite boarding school in the New England countryside. There you meet Sam, and his mother Hannah. Hannah is an extreme, overbearing, and controlling mother who’s sending her one and only child to the best boarding school in the area. Sam on the other hand, is the only child, with an over-bearing mother who’s thrusting him into a world he knows he doesn’t belong. In the world of the rich and powerful, Sam discovers normal rules don’t apply, and there is a whole new set that he must figure out on his own. Told from alternating perspectives, we get to see Sam stumble his way through social circles and difficult situations, while Hannah tries to figure out what to do with herself and her marriage now that Sam is gone.
Throughout The Nine, Blasberg explores several different themes ranging from mother-son relationships to what it means to fit in, and what it actually means to be an adult. During her exploration of each theme, she does an excellent job of leading readers to question their opinions in tough situations, while not shoving her own down their throat. Another common, but hard theme to discuss is friendship, and family. What do you do when your family and friends betray you, and can those relationships ever be mended?
Not only does The Nine examine the underbelly of elite private schools and the misconduct that can happen there, but she also lets the reader decide what is justice, and was justice served. I will admit, I had a really hard time with this theme. I am all for good triumphing over evil every time, and I tend to not like books where “justice isn’t served”. That being said, I LOVED the ending for The Nine, and it was really the only ending for the book that made sense. If you’ve read The Nine already, let’s talk because I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! It was also an ending that I wasn’t expecting. I had an inkling of who the people involved were, but there were some characters thrown in that I hadn’t suspected.
Blasberg covers a great variety of themes, and writes a killer ending, but she also does a great job of creating characters with realistic relationships. Although Hannah drove me CRAZY most of the novel, she wasn’t a totally made-up character. The “helicopter mom” stereotype is a stereotype for a reason. As a teacher, I have seen moms, that in my opinion, are way too invested in their child’s academics/life in general. It’s a very difficult road with a fine lined between invested and overbearing/hovering over your children. Up until the very end, we get to see Hannah develop and transform her definition of what a mom should be and act like. It was also one of the more interesting character transformations I have seen recently as well. Sam was also a well rounded, and complex character. When he was thrust in tough situations, he acted like a normal kid would. You get to see him stress over girls, homework, and
Over all, The Nine by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg was a believable, and fantastic novel examining life at elite boarding schools, and what can happen there. I am giving it 4/5 stars, and if you love novels about secret and underground societies or novels about boarding schools, this is one that you need to add to your TBR! I would also like to say a huge THANK YOU to Jeanne who provided me with a copy of The Nine, which did not in any way shape or form color my opinion of her novel or writing.
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