Book Review · Books

Mini Review: Moral Compass



“Saint Ambrose Prep is a place where the wealthy send their children for the best possible education, with teachers and administrators from the Ivy League, and graduates who become future lawyers, politicians, filmmakers, and CEOs. Traditionally a boys-only school, Saint Ambrose has just enrolled one hundred and forty female students for the first time. Even though most of the kids on the campus have all the privilege in the world, some are struggling, wounded by their parents’ bitter divorces, dealing with insecurity and loneliness. In such a heightened environment, even the smallest spark can become a raging fire.

One day after the school’s annual Halloween event, a student lies in the hospital, her system poisoned by dangerous levels of alcohol. Everyone in this sheltered community—parents, teachers, students, police, and the media—are left trying to figure out what actually happened. Only the handful of students who were there when she was attacked truly know the answers and they have vowed to keep one another’s secrets. As details from the evening emerge, powerful families are forced to hire attorneys and less powerful families watch helplessly. Parents’ marriages are jeopardized, and students’ futures are impacted. No one at Saint Ambrose can escape the fallout of a life-altering event.

-Synopsis from Goodreads


I read 80 pages of Moral Compass by Danielle Steel before deciding to stop. This mini-review will only cover what I read and why I chose to stop reading.

I was put off from this book pretty much from the beginning with the dizzying amount of characters (students, parents, teachers, administrators) that were introduced in the first chapter. There were countless names, backgrounds, occupations, and various nuances to each character, so much so that I stopped trying to keep track of all of them. While the first few chapters did set the scene fairly well, the narration was clunky and it felt like what I had read was more convoluted than necessary, making me question if I even wanted to continue.

The assault mentioned in the synopsis takes place at roughly sixty or so pages into the story. Based on the way the school handled it from the get-go, I knew pretty quickly that I was no longer interested in reading this story. There was already a significant amount of victim blaming taking place that was making me uncomfortable and it really gave me pause.

I realize that the title Moral Compass references morals and decisions, and that perhaps the intent of this book is to present a realistic version of the fallout of what happens after an assault and rape on a school campus, but I just didn’t foresee myself being able to wade through the victim blaming and shaming to reach that ending, however promising it may be. Not to mention, the narration style made for a cold depiction of a very serious issue that was triggering and made for an all around uncomfortable reading experience.

I would caution any readers considering this book who may have issues with these kinds of storylines. For some it may be the right book, but for me it just wasn’t and that was disappointing. I’m not rating this one, but I’m adding it to my DNF shelf on Goodreads instead.

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