The Topeka School

The Topeka School Review

Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of 1997. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting "lost boys" to open up. They both work at the Foundation, a well-known psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is also one of the seniors who brings the loner Darren Eberheart--who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father's patient--into the social scene, with disastrous effects.

This is the story of a family's struggles and strengths: Jane's reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan's marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the new right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.

Title:The Topeka School
Edition Language:English

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    The Topeka School Reviews

  • Adam Dalva

    A fascinating departure for Lerner, but also a homecoming, as this novel's increasingly fractured language embraces poetics in a way LEAVING THE ATOCHA STATION and 10:04 skirted. There is a sedate pac...

  • Meike

    This book is like a skeleton clock: There are a lot of different elements, some of them only added or painted for show, coming together to form one mechanical piece – and while the first look sugges...

  • Angela M

    Sometimes a book just doesn’t work for me and this is one of them. There was such an introspective feel right from the beginning and I usually enjoy that in a novel, but at 40% I’m giving up. I pu...

  • Ron Charles

    Ben Lerner’s new book, “The Topeka School,” is an extraordinarily brilliant novel that’s also accessible to anyone yearning for illumination in our disputatious era. If you’ve been nervously...

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    This is one of those books where the story is fabulous, but the execution and writing style aren't my cup of tea. I appreciate what the author is doing here, but the text is packed solid to the point ...

  • Alyssia Cooke

    Whilst there are some good moments in this, they are vastly outweighed by the sheer confusing tangle of webs and people and ideas all strung together with high brow language that makes the book a real...

  • Maureen

    What did I just read? I have no freaking idea. Stream of consciousness and changing points of view are great but this book made me feel like the ball in a Pong game. Meaninglessly bouncing back and fo...

  • Michael Finocchiaro

    I had high hopes for Ben Lerner's The Topeka School, but although I did appreciate the writing, I felt it was not as good as some other recent fiction that is discussed in relation to the 2020 Pulitze...

  • Blaine

    Sometimes Literary Fiction just works. It’s brilliantly written, full of richly drawn characters, social commentary and observations. And sometimes it doesn’t work at all. The writing may be great...

  • Ken

    It's always a good feeling when you settle in for the beginning of a new book that has landed on everybody's "Top Tippity-Top" lists for damn good books. It's less a good feeling when you reach the ce...