Thumbnail: How 'No Mercy' Gets the High School Experience Right
I took six AP classes over the course of my high school career. I was president of the Readers’ Club. I won awards for poetry and public speaking. But because I was not uniformly incredible at everything I attempted, and because I did not go to what my school considered an impressive college, I was regarded as a “problem student.” This was not atypical. Academic competition defined those four years, for me and for all 3,000 of my classmates. Yet for all the world’s media devoted to Teens Having Feelings, I rarely see this experience reflected. Jocks, nerds, burnouts, hotties — whatever. We’re all very familiar with tales of cafeteria warfare and bravery in the face of cystic acne. But where are the movies devoted to GPA mania? Clubs created for the sole purpose of claiming presidency on one’s transcript? The pitying looks a mere 4 on an AP exam elicits, rather than the vaunted 5? Nowhere, really, unless something Glee-ish decides to do a Very Special Episode on Adderall abuse. Until Alex de Campi, Carla Speed McNeil, and Jenn Manley Lee’s No Mercy.