On a sweltering August morning, Jane Guy steps from an island plane into a strange and dangerous world. The awkward, insecure child of a world-renowned physician, she has come to attend Queen’s Medical School on a tiny Indonesian island.
For an exorbitant enrollment fee, Queen’s is willing to accept any American child of privilege who has been rejected by all normal medical schools. Not bound by American law, the school specializes in motivating problem students –no matter what the cost to each student. For Jane, given the transgressions of her past, Queen’s is her last chance.
Surrounded by jungle and sea, Jane is plunged into unrelenting heat and the psychological abuse of the teaching staff. The truest connection she makes on the island is with another student, Keefer. Together they spend their few spare minutes watching as Jonah –a shark that Keefer keeps captive in an ocean pen– slowly circles his cage.
As days extend into weeks, Jane feels herself changing, retreating deeper into a body and spirit she no longer recognizes. And as an aura of desperation deepens among her peers, Jane’s determination to succeed grows. Failure is the only way off the island, and for Jane, it is not an option.
"A story fraught with unexpected tensions and physical danger… Flawlessly structured and thematically complex… The novel’s multiple thematic symmetries build in richly complex ways, intensified by prose that is both lyrical and staccato-tough. Marvelously suggestive and unsettling… An exhilarating and moving story." - Boston Book Review
"This story develops believably, however disastrously, and Schulman describes Jane’s dysfunctioal parents, her classmates, the Queen’s professors, and the tense life on the small Indonesian island excellently." - Booklist
"A thrilling read that illuminates a profound human transition." - Globe and Mail
"A cloistered pressure cooker… Odds are you have never set foot in a place remotely like Queen’s Medical School." - Boston Phoenix