When Ethan Whitley’s mom gets cancer, his parents believe it’s best he goes somewhere far for his senior year of high school. Thus, Ethan leaves California for the prestigious Berkley Academy. Before long, Ethan realizes he does not fit in. Then he meets Todd Eldon, a fellow classmate and Hannah McLellan, a seductive teacher.
When Todd Eldon and his girlfriend break up, Todd befriends Ethan. The school knows Ethan as the strange kid from California. Soon, the two become friends. Todd, however, realizes that he starts developing feelings for Ethan, but how could Todd ever compete with Hannah. Not too mention, Ethan is not gay.
Together, Ethan and Todd go through their senior year of high school, a time of change and discovery.
The Sixth Form is difficult novel to review. I enjoyed reading it, but looking back Tom Dolby could have delved so much into the characters, plot, etc. Dolby had a great start to all of his characters, but unfortunately it was only a start. I really would have liked to know more development from Ethan and Todd. Todd’s homosexuality never seemed like a main focus, even though Todd was definitely struggling with it. Ethan’s relationship with Hannah was interesting at first, but then I kind of pitied him. Hannah, who is in her 30s, more than took advantage of Ethan. Eventually, Ethan does end things (I’d call this a spoiler, but come on, you had to see that one coming!), but this was not near as satisfying as I thought it would be. Throughout the novel, Dolby hints about Hannah’s past. By the end of the novel, readers know about most of her past, but certainly not all of it. I found myself craving to learn more, but I just did not get that.
Having said all that, The Sixth Form was not really that bad of a novel. The book was pretty easy to get into, and the content itself was not the problem. The lack of content was the problem. Dolby set out to create a heartfelt coming-of-age story, but it feels like he got tired halfway through, so his greatness never truly materialized. Overall, however, I can certainly see myself reading more from him. I actually have The Secret Society, and I look forward to reading it, so there you go. 😛
I recommend this novel if you are looking for a coming-of-age story.