Monday, March 9, 2020

Books: Mary Adkins Gives An Unvarnished Look At The "Privilege" Of Higher Education

By Mary Adkins
Harper; hardcover, 345 pages; $27.99; available Tuesday, March 10

Mary Adkins' debut novel, When You Read This, which came out last year, was named a Best Book of the Year by Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, and Thrillist. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and The Atlantic

A native of the American South, she is a graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School, and teaches storytelling for The Moth. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her family.

Adkins worked as an attorney before her writing career, and brings her legal background and expertise to the hot-button issues at the core of her new novel, Privilege. She takes on gender and class on a Southern college campus with a nuanced story about three women confronting a world not built for them.

With its themes of sexual assault, entitlement, and social justice, this work reverberates with contemporary relevance as it digs to the heart of these young women's lives at Carter, which is regarded as "the Harvard of the South."

Annie Stoddard, a bassoon-playing scholarship student, comes to Carter from a tiny Georgia town, certain she's not worthy of her spot there but determined to do her best. Bea Powers, a biracial prep school grad from the northeast who is still processing her mother's death, has misgivings about attending a Southern college, but was lured there by the school's renowned Justice Scholars program. Stayja York, a "Townie," who has been saving up for her own community college tuition, serves up lattes at the campus Coffee Bean to spoiled Carter students.

These three remain strangers until Annie reports her sexual assault by golden-boy fourth-year Tyler Brand to the campus administration. As Annie deals with the fallout from her assault ad the ensuing investigation, Bea is brought in as a Student Advocate for Tyler, and Stayja starts to view and exciting new relationship in a different light. 

Privilege offers an unvarnished look at the issues these young women - actually, all young women - face today with this rich, empathetic, and thought-provoking examination of today's campus dynamics and politics. 

AUTHOR APPEARNANCE: Mary Adkins will be appearing at the Privilege Launch Party on Saturday, March 21 from 7:00 - 9:00 PM at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. For more information, click here.

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