Parker, Daniel. The Wessex Papers series. Trust Falls, vol. 1.

Author:Winship, Michele
Position:Book Review

PARKER, Daniel. The Wessex Papers series. Trust Falls, vol. 1. 270p. 0-06-440806-X. Fallout, vol. 2,254p. 0-06-440807-8. Outsmart, vol. 3. 248p. 0-06-440794-2. HarperCollins, Avon. c2002. $4.99 each. JS

The first book in this three-part series introduces readers to the exclusive world of Wessex Academy, a boarding school for children of the rich ruled by the "ABs," Alumni Brats, children of former graduates. The ABs enjoy lives of privilege, skiing in Aspen and summering in the Hamptons. They also hold positions of power on campus, attending faculty parties at the headmaster's house and manipulating staff to stay in their good graces and get out of trouble. When we read the first Wessex paper, an anonymous essay submitted as part of the school's 25-year "time capsule" project, we meet Sunday Winthrop, who is starting her senior year at Wessex and will be sharing a suite with her two best friends, Allison and Mackenzie. However, Sunday has begun to question the AB lifestyle that has defined her 17 years so far, and in her letter, she exposes some of the negative aspects of that lire, foreshadowing what will come. The perfectly planned senior year that Sunday assumed she and her AB crowd would have is abruptly changed when Fred Wright, a public high school basketball star, arrives at Wessex for a "postgraduate" year. After Fred arrives, we start to see the seamy underside of Wessex through his eyes, starting with Winslow "Winnie" Ellis' underground tobacco business. Conflict unfolds as Fred is confronted by Wessex basketball player Tony Viverito and as Sunday finds out serious secrets involving Wessex faculty and students.

Volume Two starts immediately where Volume One left off, following a brief review of excerpts of some previous Wessex papers. If becomes obvious to the reader, as well as to Fred and Sunday, that in addition to its tradition of snobbish excellence, Wessex also has a tradition of blackmail, illegal stock trading, underground sports gambling, and Mafioso connections. After Fred allows Wessex to lose to their rival, unwittingly upsetting a sure-bet gamble, the tension and the grit rise to the surface. Fred and Sunday take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of these conspiracies, and they find out that most of the Wessex faculty, including Headmaster Olsen, is not what it seems. Following their new discoveries, Sunday and Fred sneak off to an abandoned quarry to plan what they will do...

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