When Elise Duncan accepts a position as director of health at the Academy of Halcyon Heights, she’s relieved. Working at the prestigious private prep school allows her to be home with her children and critically ill husband during the evenings and over the summer.
Elise quickly discovers the Academy has no guidance counselors. After all, the mere presence of a counselor might attract students with issues. So instead students gravitate to Elise with their problems, by default moving her into the role of confidant. Time and again her young charges reveal how the school puts appearance and donations ahead of a safe and just learning environment.
Elise begins to understand the dynamics at work when she tries to help a student suffering with schizophrenia. There is no problem so compelling that it cannot be ignored, if the wealthy parents demand it. If a substantial donation is on the table, the Academy is willing to turn a blind eye, but there is a price.
When a major scandal hits Halcyon Heights, the school must confront deep-seated assumptions about race, social class, age, and gender. Young lives may be ruined forever in a desperate attempt to preserve the school’s prestigious reputation. Privilege, as Elise is about to discover, has rules all its own.