‘The Year of the Gadfly” is a darkly comic romp that may look at first to be just one more literary trip through the horrors and angst of high school. But you’ve never been anywhere like the elite prep school known as Mariana Academy (unless you’ve really touched a toe onto the island of “Lord of the Flies”).
Jennifer Miller, a Washington native who lives in Brooklyn, has constructed her first novel around a 14-year-old girl. Young Iris yearns to be a journalist and carries on conversations with her only friend: the ghost of Edward R. Murrow. She used to have a living best friend, but she died, a traumatic event that prompted Iris’s parents to move to a small town in the Berkshires and enroll her in this very posh new school. Iris tells us her own story, shoulders straight, chin up, tough-reporter-savvy, making sure nobody thinks she’s needy and scared. But she is. Still, she can spot a cliche from a mile away (like this one), and she’s determined to dig out the secrets of Prisom’s Party, Mariana Academy’s lethal and secret student society.