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 heroin usage.Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?Inspired by the true events that happened in the author’s home town.

The Gatekeepers Details

TitleThe Gatekeepers
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 10th, 2017
PublisherHarlequin Teen
ISBN-139780373212613
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Teen

The Gatekeepers Review

  • Stephanie Elliot
    January 1, 1970
    Reading now. Immersed! Full review when finished!
  • Katie Strawser
    January 1, 1970
    This book is up there with my favorites I've read this year. Jen Lancaster did a marvelous job creating characters I loved and that felt so authentic. Not having attended a school like this or being raised in such an affluent community, it was enlightening to see how the types of problems that arise at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum. This book does deal with teen suicide but was done in a very tactful way. Mental illness still has such a stigma and I am forever thankful to every aut This book is up there with my favorites I've read this year. Jen Lancaster did a marvelous job creating characters I loved and that felt so authentic. Not having attended a school like this or being raised in such an affluent community, it was enlightening to see how the types of problems that arise at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum. This book does deal with teen suicide but was done in a very tactful way. Mental illness still has such a stigma and I am forever thankful to every author that uses their power to shed light on such an important issue.
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  • Amy Formanski Duffy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Rachel Reeves
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. What an absolutely incredible book! I've long been a fan of Lancaster's work and her as a person. She has a gift with words and is an incredible storyteller. This is her best yet, and I will honestly be surprised if I read anything else this year that I find to be better; it is that good. It addresses such an important and timely topic and does it so well. Especially with more discussion happen Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. What an absolutely incredible book! I've long been a fan of Lancaster's work and her as a person. She has a gift with words and is an incredible storyteller. This is her best yet, and I will honestly be surprised if I read anything else this year that I find to be better; it is that good. It addresses such an important and timely topic and does it so well. Especially with more discussion happening now regarding teen suicide, and with the popularity of 13 Reasons Why, this will be an important book to put into the hands of teens. Also, I think it will be an important book for parents and those who have any impact on the lives of teens to read as well. In addition to teen suicide, the book addresses the relentless pressure on teens to succeed at everything and push themselves further and further. It's not enough to be a good student, or a talented athlete, or an accomplished artist/musician/dancer/actor, etc. Expectation on teens today is that they have to excel at everything, no matter the cost. Compared to many other books that do address these issues, I think Lancaster has done so well at getting into the why of it and what can be done to watch for signs of someone who is struggling and how one can help them. So many books focus more on the emotional aspects and fallout of suicide without providing hope and solutions. While they are often still really good books that are worth reading, I appreciate what Lancaster has done here and think this book can effect change and do something to help what is happening. I very highly recommend this one and hope it will be read widely. For sure, it should be in every library that serves teens.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    I won a free advanced copy of this book from Goodreads. Thanks Goodreads! I was super excited because I haven't won a book on here before and it was one that I really wanted to read. I love Jen's memoirs, but her adult novels, not so much. So I wasn't sure how I'd like her YA novel. I applaud her for taking on a serious topic and not just writing about moody teenagers in love or teen vampires or whatever. It's never easy being a teen, but I do think teens have it harder now than even back when I I won a free advanced copy of this book from Goodreads. Thanks Goodreads! I was super excited because I haven't won a book on here before and it was one that I really wanted to read. I love Jen's memoirs, but her adult novels, not so much. So I wasn't sure how I'd like her YA novel. I applaud her for taking on a serious topic and not just writing about moody teenagers in love or teen vampires or whatever. It's never easy being a teen, but I do think teens have it harder now than even back when I was in high school (17 years ago). As long as I did my homework and got decent grades I think my parents were happy. They never pushed me into doing endless activities or got mad if I didn't get straight As. With the pressure to be perfect it's no wonder so many kids nowadays snap and take their own lives. I did think it was interesting that she focused on the expectation to be perfect as the cause of the deaths and not on bullying. I would think the bullying (online and in person) would be a bigger factor in teen suicide than not pleasing your parents. I think this would be a good book for parents to read. They can get a look into what's going on in their kids head and maybe recognize the signs of a troubled kid before it's to late. While I did think it was a good book, there were some things that annoyed me. I don't spend any time with young adults, all my friends kids are under the age of 10, so I could be wrong about how teens act, but I had a hard time believing that they just hang out and talk about John Hughes movies and listening to old school rap/hip hop. I think that since Jen's a fan of John Hughes that she just made her characters that way to, even if it isn't realistic. Again, I could be wrong. It also annoys me when people call people Honey and use the word Imma. And the book felt a little long. Despite all that, it was a good book and had a great message.
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  • Jennifer Shanahan
    January 1, 1970
    This book was absolutely amazing and I thank NetGalley for the ARC. I could NOT put it down. It deserves 100 stars. It is one of the best YA books that I have ever read. It was first person from several different points of view, which I love. As a Chicagoan myself, I absolutely LOVED all the Chicago references! They were totally hilarious and all so true. About the Sears Tower and the W flag-that was SO SO funny! And the McD's up North, too!!! With all that said, this story was amazing. And so s This book was absolutely amazing and I thank NetGalley for the ARC. I could NOT put it down. It deserves 100 stars. It is one of the best YA books that I have ever read. It was first person from several different points of view, which I love. As a Chicagoan myself, I absolutely LOVED all the Chicago references! They were totally hilarious and all so true. About the Sears Tower and the W flag-that was SO SO funny! And the McD's up North, too!!! With all that said, this story was amazing. And so so so true. I live in a town where the academic climate is similar to NSHS and it is scary. My kids have been under the same type of pressure as portrayed in this book but maybe not quite to the same degree. Also, I am HOME a lot and my husband is around. They are not left alone to fend for themselves and they are happy and close to each other as well, which I think makes all the difference in the world. We do not pressure our kids to constantly do better and to do more. That is what is missing in the families in this book. They have no family life at all. Thank you, Ms. Lancaster, for writing such an important novel. I think every high schooler in America AND their parents should read it and I am not kidding. I will encourage my kids' high school and our public library to get it ASAP. I'll even donate a copy to both places because I feel so strongly about it. You focus on a very real problem. I live it too, but have managed to have it NOT be a problem at least for my own kids and their friends. Thank you again for writing this novel! NetGalley ROCKS for letting me read this early!
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I won an advanced copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Goodreads!This book is extremely important. It exposes the nonsensical requirements we place on teenagers in the United States. We expect them to figure out their lives and purposes all on the same timeline, to be the best and most impressive so they can go to the best and most impressive colleges and get the best and most impressive jobs. And then the book lays out a horrifying statistic: 5,000 teenagers I won an advanced copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Goodreads!This book is extremely important. It exposes the nonsensical requirements we place on teenagers in the United States. We expect them to figure out their lives and purposes all on the same timeline, to be the best and most impressive so they can go to the best and most impressive colleges and get the best and most impressive jobs. And then the book lays out a horrifying statistic: 5,000 teenagers attempt suicide in the United States EVERY DAY.This book made me look at my own high school experience with new eyes. I remember the insane pressure to have the best grades, the best test scores, the best activities, the best application essays. I remember feeling that college was absolutely everything, that it was the gateway to a good life and a good job. I remember feeling that a gap year or community college were lesser choices, that I would be looked down upon if I opted for either.This book explores that, all of that. How we put our teenagers on a treadmill and tell them to run faster and faster, without giving them the option to hop off, to take a breath, to figure things out. I hadn't thought much about the absurdity of our expectations before, but it was thoroughly and insightfully addressed in this book. I appreciate how this book took something that I experienced several years ago and laid it open, showed how it is still going on, how it is getting worse.Sometimes this book seemed to drag on for me, sometimes I didn't find the characters very interesting or likable, sometimes they seemed unrealistic (the dialogue was smooth but didn't always sound like that of a real teenager). But I did feel that Lancaster did a wonderful job capturing the current generation and the obstacles they face. Hundreds of years from now, if someone were to read this book, I think they would learn and understand many of the big ideas and the little details that characterize our current times.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. This is my favorite Jen Lancaster book to date and you can tell that this story came straight from her heart. I stayed up until a little after 1am finishing it because I could not put it down. It is told from different characters' points of view in alternating chapters (a format I love) and she does a great job giving each character their own personality and voice. While there are some humorous parts (this is Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. This is my favorite Jen Lancaster book to date and you can tell that this story came straight from her heart. I stayed up until a little after 1am finishing it because I could not put it down. It is told from different characters' points of view in alternating chapters (a format I love) and she does a great job giving each character their own personality and voice. While there are some humorous parts (this is Jen Lancaster), the message is serious and on point and emotional and she sets a finely balanced tone. Having lost a close (adult) friend to suicide in 2015, this book especially hit home with some of the grieving and recovery descriptions. After a loss to suicide, it is very easy to lose yourself and ruminate on "what should I have done differently to help them and make them stay?" even though that type of thinking in and of itself can be destructive. The pain never fully goes away, but it does recede with time and support. I'm so grateful I was given the opportunity to read The Gatekeepers early, I'm thrilled that it was so well written by an author I admire and really enjoy reading, and I hope others will love this book as much as I did.
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  • Angie Steiner
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the story. I feel like handling a story that centers around teen suicide is a really difficult thing to do well, but I think that Jen Lancaster really nailed it. The story was sad, but sweet (although not saccharine), and ultimately hopeful.I felt that all of the characters were presented as fairly complex people, which was a really nice change from the wa First of all, I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the story. I feel like handling a story that centers around teen suicide is a really difficult thing to do well, but I think that Jen Lancaster really nailed it. The story was sad, but sweet (although not saccharine), and ultimately hopeful.I felt that all of the characters were presented as fairly complex people, which was a really nice change from the way I typically feel about characters in teen literature. I didn't like Mallory at all in the beginning, but by the end, I absolutely adored her. I loved Simone at first, but then she behaved in ways that I found incredibly frustrating, and eventually she came back around. Jasper was awful, and then he wasn't. Like I said, they all had some facets to them. All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a non-exploitative story about the consequences of unrelenting pressures found in seemingly unexpected places, or anyone looking for a story about how things can definitely get better after tragedy.
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  • Susan Melfi
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an e-ARC of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love Jen Lancaster and have read her memoirs and adult fiction. She tackled a tough subject with her usual snark and it worked. Also, sadly her characters (both the teens and parents) are very close to the driven familes I come in contact with every day as a teen librarian. What I don't think will work for my teen patrons were all of the John Hughes movie references and the 80s rap references. I know that these ar I was given an e-ARC of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love Jen Lancaster and have read her memoirs and adult fiction. She tackled a tough subject with her usual snark and it worked. Also, sadly her characters (both the teens and parents) are very close to the driven familes I come in contact with every day as a teen librarian. What I don't think will work for my teen patrons were all of the John Hughes movie references and the 80s rap references. I know that these are two topics that are close to Jen's heart but I don't think that teens will relate or even get some of the comments. Having said this, I still think that this book will fly off of our library shelf but it will be checked out by 40 somethings not their teenage children.I would give this book 3.5 stars if possible or I'd give it a 4 if it was written as an adult novel instead of YA.
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  • Sarah Ressler
    January 1, 1970
    Disappointing -too large for most teens (435 pages!) and too many perspectives -none of whom I cared about. I love Jen Lancaster but felt this just missed the mark. Important subject (high pressure expectations for teens leading to increased suicide in wealthy communities ) but this is not the book to communicate that to teens at least for me. Alas. Full disclosure -read 100+ pages than skipped to the end but just didn't see it getting any better.
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  • Teen Oppl
    January 1, 1970
    A High School suicide prevention story, though it took a while for the characters to try to prevent anything (4, almost 5 deaths to be exact). The adults in the book were mostly flat out jerks (and that's putting it nicely). Overall though the story does get it's message across, and the message is a good one. Simplified to fit everyone.... "Sometimes overwhelming pressure can just be to much. If people are aware of that and are willing to help make changes, lives can be saved. "
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  • M
    January 1, 1970
    A phenomenal and authentic story of the aftermath of suicide on family, friends, and a community. Lancaster uses different point of views to create a heart-wrenching picture of suicide, yet its compelling conclusion can only be called hopeful, a call to action that readers cannot ignore. An original perspective on an essential problem; a must purchase for YA collections. I received a digital ARC from NetGalley, all opinions are my own!
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    A good suicide prevention book in the long run. It was kind of slow in parts, it took over half the book for the characters to even think about trying to stop teens from dying. It made me sad that it took 4, almost 5 deaths for people to really start caring. I really couldn't believe the way the adults were. A good read for High School and older teens. Since it's not a "clean" read Mature Jr. High kids who need a book like this might also find it useful. Good for fans of 13 Reasons Why.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    What a poignant novel for our times. With the controversy over Thirteen Reasons Why, I feel that this book is a better discussion of teen suicide. The novel explores all aspects of teen suicide including: warning signs, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, survivor's guilt, and the entire grieving process. A definite read for teens, their parents and anyone who works with them.
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  • Jennie
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I've long struggled with Jen Lancaster's fiction, most of which i think is awful despite loving her memoirs. But this? Felt like a departure from the often hokey plotlines of her previous novels. This is real. I actually had tears in my eyes at times. A little long, for me it could have used a little more editing, but this goes down as a definite recommends.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    While I thought this book was going to be very different, I did enjoy it. The middle became a little redundant. I enjoyed how the characters changed and became friends. I was thinking this was going to be more of a mystery, but was pleasantly surprised.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    This was better than I expected! I like Jen Lancaster's work but the description of this sounded, well, trite. But it's not - at all! It'll keep you on your toes until the end!
  • Sandy Lusardi desiervo
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book and especially the 80's references! Highly recommend!
  • Melanie Frenette
    January 1, 1970
    I won an ARC copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Unfortunately, for me.. After reading the first 10 chapters of this book, nothing about it has grabbed my attention.
  • Mina
    January 1, 1970
    I would give this 4.5 if I could. My teen years took place in the '80s so I loved all the John Hughes references. One of the better YA novels I've read in awhile.
  • Alyson Ray
    January 1, 1970
    This book has haunted me (in the best way) since I finished it. Ms Lancaster's characters are so real and tragic. She talks like a young adult, but with the wisdom of an older sister. It should be on Book Lists for all high schools, maybe even middle schools. This great story can help create real dialogue with the young adults of today (and the future)
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Every reader, parent, teacher and student should read this book. It’s the perfect mix of reading entertainment and call to action. The timing of this book could not have been more perfect, right after the controversy surrounding “13 Reasons Why” (a Netflix series “glamorizing” suicide), The Gatekeepers provides us a more sobering account of suicide inspired by true events.https://fortheloveofthepageblog.wordp...
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