Amazon's Best Nonfiction Book of the Month for June 2023
Nylon's "June 2023's Must-Read Book Releases"
Pure Wow’s “11 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in June”
The Skimm’s “17 of Our Favorite Books Coming Out This Summer”
Glamour’s “15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2023, So Far”
Bustle’s “Most Anticipated Books Of Spring & Summer 2023”
Harper’s Bazaar’s “23 Best Summer Beach Reads of 2023”
Zibby Mag’s “Most Anticipated Spring and Summer Books”
A New York Post Best Books of the Week selection
Three suburban girls meet at a boarding school for troubled teens.
Eight years later, they were dead.
Bustle editor Samantha Leach and her childhood best friend, Elissa, met as infants in the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island, where they attended nursery, elementary school, and temple together. As seventh graders, they would steal drinks from bar mitzvahs and have boys over in Samantha’s basement—innocent, early acts of rebellion. But after one of their shared acts, Samantha was given a disciplinary warning by their private school while Elissa was dismissed altogether, and later sent away. Samantha did not know then, but Elissa had just become one of the fifty-thousand-plus kids per year who enter the Troubled Teen Industry: a network of unregulated programs meant to reform wealthy, wayward youth.
Less than a year after graduation from Ponca Pines Academy, Elissa died at eighteen years old. In Samantha’s grief, she fixated on Elissa’s last years at the therapeutic boarding school, eager to understand why their paths diverged. As she spoke to mutual friends and scoured social media pages, Samantha learned of Alyssa and Alissa, Elissa’s closest friends at the school who shared both her name and penchant for partying, where drugs and alcohol became their norm. The matching Save Our Souls tattoo all three girls also had further fueled Samantha’s fixation, as she watched their lives play out online. Four years after Elissa’s death, Alyssa died, then Alissa at twenty-six.
In The Elissas, Samantha endeavors to understand why they ultimately met a shared, tragic fate that she was spared, in turn, offering a chilling account of the secret lives of young suburban women.