The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster

The Gatekeepers

Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains, and that there's rampant opioid abuse that often leads to...

Title:The Gatekeepers
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Edition Language:English

The Gatekeepers Reviews

  • Rebecca

    Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

    If you're familiar with Jen Lancaster's previous books for adults and teens, you may want to adjust your expectations for The Gatekeepers. While the author has made her name with her humorous memoirs, in The Gatekeepers, Lancaster tackles the difficult topic of teen suicide. At North Shore High School, the students are constantly competing for the highest grades, the most impressive extracurricul

    Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

    If you're familiar with Jen Lancaster's previous books for adults and teens, you may want to adjust your expectations for The Gatekeepers. While the author has made her name with her humorous memoirs, in The Gatekeepers, Lancaster tackles the difficult topic of teen suicide. At North Shore High School, the students are constantly competing for the highest grades, the most impressive extracurriculars, and admission to the best colleges. The expectations are high, and the risks are real as this wealthy community has also seen many more than their share of students taking their own lives. This book reinforces the impacts of these expectations on teens, and the importance of awareness and vigilance from their friends, family, and community. The teens in this book are struggling with a wide variety of issues in addition to trying to figure out how to save each other. It's definitely a tough read in spots, and may be too difficult for those who are too close to the topic. However, I was overall impressed with what Lancaster has accomplished in this book and the sense of hope that persisted through the ending.

  • Stephanie Elliot

    Reading now. Immersed! Full review when finished!

  • Elizabeth

    One of my favorite author's first attempt at YA. It deals with teen suicide so it's not her usual comedic writing. Her memoirs are still my favorite but this was solid AND important.

  • Kathy

    The Gatekeepers is set in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. The families in the story are very aware of "keeping up with the Joneses" and making sure the children in the family are the best and brightest in their endeavors, no matter the cost to the children's mental health. The Gatekeepers is the name of a group developed after several teen suicides in the community, due to the pressures of high school, high parental expectations, not being able to follow a path in which the parents do not participa

    The Gatekeepers is set in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. The families in the story are very aware of "keeping up with the Joneses" and making sure the children in the family are the best and brightest in their endeavors, no matter the cost to the children's mental health. The Gatekeepers is the name of a group developed after several teen suicides in the community, due to the pressures of high school, high parental expectations, not being able to follow a path in which the parents do not participate. The subject matter is solemn but Jen Lancaster manages to infuse her writing with her standard wit. Some of the expressions the teens use don't seem to keep up with the things I hear teens saying in 2017. Some of the focus is on 1980's movies that were popular, such as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. While those movies are considered classic teen movies, I'm not sure many teens today can relate to them. They seem more relatable to the generation of the author (of which I am). This book does stand out, though, because Ms. Lancaster does seem able to relate to the problems that teens have from generation to generation - peer pressure, academic pressure, parental pressure, etc. I would recommend this book for ages twelve to sixteen and any fan of Jen Lancaster.

  • Amy Formanski Duffy

    As a long-time fan of Jen Lancaster’s adult memoirs and novels, I wasn’t sure what to expect from her first teen book. Those of you who are familiar with her writing style will recognize her snarky humor and 80s movie references. This one takes place in “John Hughes Land” aka the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, and there are plenty of references to Hughes’ beloved teen films. After she moved to this posh area, Lancaster discovered its dirty little secrets. Teens who live on the North Shore feel

    As a long-time fan of Jen Lancaster’s adult memoirs and novels, I wasn’t sure what to expect from her first teen book. Those of you who are familiar with her writing style will recognize her snarky humor and 80s movie references. This one takes place in “John Hughes Land” aka the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, and there are plenty of references to Hughes’ beloved teen films. After she moved to this posh area, Lancaster discovered its dirty little secrets. Teens who live on the North Shore feel so much pressure to succeed that they often take drugs and drink to cope. They develop eating disorders and get severely depressed. And some of them jump in front of Metra trains to end their lives. In this story, an unlikely group of friends including Mallory, the overachieving homecoming queen, Simone, the artsy new girl from England, Kent, the geek who loves 90s hip hop, and Owen, the stoner documentary filmmaker, form a group called the Gatekeepers after several of their classmates commit suicide. They vow to stop any more of their friends from taking their own lives. Despite their differences, they develop strong friendships, a definite nod to The Breakfast Club. Together they help one of the most popular guys in school as he battles an addiction to painkillers. It’s a bit like an afterschool special, sure, but the characters are well-developed and likable enough that it works. Teens will certainly relate to one or more of the characters and will hopefully develop empathy for kids in different social circles. The bottom line seems to be that teens need strong support systems of peers and family members that they can openly communicate with in order to avoid severe depression and suicide. That sounds simple enough, but in a world where half the communication happens on social media and hard-working parents are increasingly absent in their kids’ daily lives, it’s tougher than it sounds. I’m curious to hear what teens of different socioeconomic backgrounds think of this story about super rich kids, but all teens deal with depression and the pressure to figure out their future. A relevant topic, charming characters, and enough humor to lighten a very heavy subject.

  • Kay

    Love Jen's books, and this one is no different. The subject matter is difficult, but its so important. This is entertaining as well!

  • Corey

    4.5 stars

    I have been a long time fan of Jen Lancaster's but for me, her memoirs are where she shines and her fiction novels have been hit or miss for me.

    The premise of the novel follows a set of teens who are dealing with a suicide epidemic and each character in turn tells their side of what happens through the course of a year (but predominantly a few months). While this isn't a true story, it's based on true events that have been taking place all over the country.

    When I started The Gatekeepe

    4.5 stars

    I have been a long time fan of Jen Lancaster's but for me, her memoirs are where she shines and her fiction novels have been hit or miss for me.

    The premise of the novel follows a set of teens who are dealing with a suicide epidemic and each character in turn tells their side of what happens through the course of a year (but predominantly a few months). While this isn't a true story, it's based on true events that have been taking place all over the country.

    When I started The Gatekeepers the first couple chapters were almost a bit too much teen-speaky. I know this makes no sense but once you read the novel (and you should!) perhaps you'll understand what I'm trying to say. Either it gets better or I got used to the voice so-to-speak and once I was over that hurdle I flew through the book.

    While I feel at times it's a bit too "after school special" (and as a kid I loved the hell out of those so it isn't necessarily a dig) it really does deal with the reality kids are facing now. The alternating viewpoints really show how various kinds of people deal with stress and loss. Some turn inward, some turn to others, some turn to drugs and some give up. It's one of those stories that I think teens need to read to not feel so alone. Heck, as an adult it reminded me how everyone is dealing with something and should be treated with kindness, even if they are outwardly being a jerk.

    Overall it was a solid novel and may be one of my favorites of Lancaster's to date.

  • Cynthia

    Teen suicide is a major theme of "The Gatekeepers" but don't be put off by the seriousness of this because mostly it's a book about teens being teens. Going to parties, making friends, struggling with academics, and worrying about what college will accept them. Lancaster does an excellent job of making these characters leap off the page, some of them are almost larger than life but you'll probably fall in love with them just as I did.

    The high school they attend is in an affluent area and academi

    Teen suicide is a major theme of "The Gatekeepers" but don't be put off by the seriousness of this because mostly it's a book about teens being teens. Going to parties, making friends, struggling with academics, and worrying about what college will accept them. Lancaster does an excellent job of making these characters leap off the page, some of them are almost larger than life but you'll probably fall in love with them just as I did.

    The high school they attend is in an affluent area and academics are stressed as are extra curricular activities and not just because these will be enriching for the kids but because they'll look good on college applications. Also, almost all the parents have high powered jobs and make big salaries that go with that however they pour time and attention into their jobs and sometimes not enough quality time parenting. All of this leaves the kids vulnerable to depression and sometimes leaves them desperate enough to kill themselves.

    Before reading this book I would have said I was well informed on this topic but Lancaster gives stress factors that can ratchet up pain for some kids. This is also not a book about blaming parents or teachers and other school personnel but about the teens taking their power back or feeling it more fully. It's a book about redemption, learning the signs to look for in potential suicides, and caring deeply about others.

  • Stacy Fetters

    DNF @ 46%

    I told myself that I would read 150 pages and if it didn’t get better than I would stop. Well, I tried to read a little bit more each time and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Why did I keep torturing myself for so long?

    The characters in this book annoyed me beyond belief. No personal connections were fused. Every single person named in this book drove me batshit crazy. I don’t care how perfect you believe your little town is, or how fantastic your school is with its preparation for th

    DNF @ 46%

    I told myself that I would read 150 pages and if it didn’t get better than I would stop. Well, I tried to read a little bit more each time and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Why did I keep torturing myself for so long?

    The characters in this book annoyed me beyond belief. No personal connections were fused. Every single person named in this book drove me batshit crazy. I don’t care how perfect you believe your little town is, or how fantastic your school is with its preparation for the real world or all the fake friends you guys share.

    We all have secrets, some darker and bigger than others. We keep things inside that we don’t want out. These kids had some and I didn’t care if they shared them or not. They were all whiny little shots who won’t ever know what the real world is like due to the silver spoons.

    And who the hell brushes off suicide like it’s no big deal!? Wtf!? It’s a huge deal and maybe you should talk about it and heal as a community.

    Nothing boiled my blood quite like this read and I sure as hell wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

    If some stranger offers you this book with the beautiful cover, run! Don’t take horrible books from strangers! This time, they don’t have the best candy.

  • Karen

    4.5 stars. What an amazing book. Love Jen Lancaster's funny memoir books. This book really highlighted what an a amazing writer she really is. I would usually not read a book on teen suicide but this book sucked me, I couldn't put it down. Wasn't melodramatic, but timely, fresh, filled with pop culture references and very relatable. Was so well written with characters that while a first seemed stereotypical as you delved into the novel, realized each character was more then what they seemed, whi

    4.5 stars. What an amazing book. Love Jen Lancaster's funny memoir books. This book really highlighted what an a amazing writer she really is. I would usually not read a book on teen suicide but this book sucked me, I couldn't put it down. Wasn't melodramatic, but timely, fresh, filled with pop culture references and very relatable. Was so well written with characters that while a first seemed stereotypical as you delved into the novel, realized each character was more then what they seemed, which is a major point of the setting and story.

    I highly recommend this book.

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