Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

A friend of mine on #bookstagram (instagram for book reviews) recommended this book to me – a story that takes place at a performing arts high school (right up my alley as a high school teacher myself)!

Thank you Henry Holt for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Synopsis from Goodreads: In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence. As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

Susan Choi is a Pulitzer prize finalist and it’s easy to tell why. Susan is gifted with a wonderful knack for writing beautiful prose literature. The thing that really stopped me in my tracks with reading this book is that it is one stream of consciousness. There are no chapters to this book. Yup, you heard me right – none. One long rambling narrative. The story itself is a truly in-depth look at high school life in the 1980s. I think she did an excellent job at capturing the truth of what it was, but I just wasn’t interested in what happened to these characters. There is very little dialogue and a lot of random twists in turns in the timeline. As cool of an idea this may have started out to be, it just wasn’t the book for me.

3 thoughts on “Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

  1. Sounds like an interesting read if anything else. Might consider it, but if it’s difficult to get behind the characters in the story and root for them, then it might not be my type of book either. It’s interesting though that the story is all stream of consciousness without any chapters. I wonder if that makes it work well or makes it even more difficult to enjoy the story.


    • It’s hard to say! Reviews are all over the place for this one. For me – I read so much and have so many books that I really do want to read and am excited about reading that I could’ve probably skipped out on reading this one and would’ve been okay with that.


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