Age of Consent: A Novel
Despite her artistic parents’ total inability to manage money, Justine Rubin finds herself beginning her sophomore year of high school at the Connecticut boarding school Griswold Academy. It is 1983, everything is accessible in New York if you know the right people, and Justine is ready to become. What she’ll become isn’t clear; but that isn’t what’s important.
Amanda Brainerd’s brilliant Age of Consent isn’t just a coming of age novel, though that can’t be underscored. It is also a gorgeous, rancid, luxurious snapshot of a type in America when helicopter parents didn’t exist and dance clubs in NYC cared more about the fame of the clientele than their age. As Justine befriends wealthy and connected classmates like Eve Straus and Clay Bradley, she’s ushered into a world far removed from her own.
The story is as much Eve’s as it is Justine’s. The wealthier of the two, Eve is also the more troubled. Griswold is the last stop on a tour of boarding schools, all of which she’s left under dubious circumstances. Her parents’ money and clout have gotten her into Griswold, but she has to keep herself there.
A meditation on music and friendship, young love and drug use, the start of the AIDS epidemic and the frenetic pace of the 80s New York art scene, Age of Consent is a dark and beautiful book for anyone who remembers the hope and terror of being sixteen.
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