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All booksYoung adultThe Most Dangerous Place on Earth
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Young adult

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Lindsey Lee Johnson, on your first book!

by Lindsey Lee Johnson

Quick take

Authors who inhabit the adolescent world best understand how teens must come to terms with power, and zero in on those who are not afraid to use it.

Why I love it

Sarah Weinman

The mysteries of adolescence are catnip for writers. Generation after generation, we try to figure out why teenagers behave the way they do, why they seem so elusive, and why their worlds are so alluring. Love affairs and friendships form fast and dissolve in disaster, the smallest cruelties can be devastating, and decisions, no matter how trivial, become the most important choices in their lives. Authors who inhabit the adolescent world best understand how teens must come to terms with power, and zero in on those who are not afraid to use it.

The intersection of power, fear, desire, and pain is what makes Lindsey Lee Johnson's debut novel The Most Dangerous Place on Earth so extraordinary. An assortment of students attending a Marin County, California high school '“ where one might expect an idyllic state bordering on pleasant boredom '“ can't quite shake off the effect of a years-ago tragedy where unrequited love, an ill-advised letter, and social media bullying led to suicide.

Each of these students carry the burden of tragedy in unexpected ways, trying on and shedding identities like snakeskin. They include Cally, the original object of desire who transforms from proto-cool to waifish hippie, wanting visibility and invisibility at the same time; Nick, one of the original bullies, who projects a tough persona with his friends but has secret outlets and liaisons; and Emma, a talented dancer so disciplined by day it comes as no surprise that she tests her self-destructive limits by night.

With gorgeous prose and masterful insight, Johnson renders these teens, as well as their young teacher--barely a decade older but blind to how her students’ sophisticated surfaces will compel her to blur professional boundaries--with enormous heart and careful precision. She shows realistically, as too many writers fail, the behavioral consequences of social media use, how it's the way teenagers use technology, not the technology itself, that's the key. And when tragedy strikes again, it is both shocking and inevitable, and shows the truth, and the lie, of what bound these kids together in the first place.

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Member thoughts

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All (1753)
Love (412)
Like (1067)
Dislike (274)
1831 ratings
  • 23% Love
  • 58% Like
  • 15% Dislike
  • St Robert, MO

    I think it is important for society to see the struggles teenagers face even when adults are blind to them. This book portrays those struggles, showing teenagers make choices regardless of consequence

  • Georgetown, KY

    This book was extremely well written and amazing. I was sucked into the narrative of each of the students and the teacher from the beginning to the end. I cannot wait for more books from this author.

  • Myrtle beach , SC

    The Most Dangerous Place on Earth somehow manages to accuractly depict the solemn tone of an American high school. From the death of a middle school student to the spiritual death of a young teacher.

  • Rowlett, TX

    I like the different chapters for each character, although I do wish we could return to more characters (not just the teacher) for each time period. Reminds me of high school and of days I don't miss.

  • Pensacola, FL

    I read this to see if it was appropriate for our school library. In the beginning, I thought I was standing in the school hallway listening to the kids. School really is a dangerous place; very real.

  • Blairsburg, IA

    As a high school teacher, and a mom of a high schooler, this book both terrified me and reminded me how very much I need to pay attention. Sometimes kids are silently suffering right in front of us.

  • Arlington, VA

    this was one of the most raw books I've read. Nothing was exaggerated, it was completely spot on. Which makes it very very scary. I finished it in a day, I was so captivated by the characters. Love!!

  • Outlook , WA

    This was my 1st BOTM box. It was a Christmas gift. And far I am loving it. This book was one I couldn't put down. The characters were real & I loved going on their painful journey with them

  • Chapel Hill, NC

    Thoughtful, dark and frighteningly realistic. I loved how each chapter fully developed a character, shaped by a child's suicide in 8th grade, without telling us their entire story. Really beautiful.

  • Spokane, WA

    As a parent this book was all to relevant. I can see how these little people we are raising don't know how to put a stop to things when social pressures set in. Loved the book, highly recommend it!

  • Fairfield, CA

    I was completely captured by this book and the way it was written. Brought me right back to the complicated mess and beauty of high school and the roller coaster or emotions that resulted. Loved!!!

  • Peyton, CO

    This book really does tell the truthful story of how school is the most dangerous place on earth. From my own experience, I can look and read this book and relate and look back at it with new eyes.


    Johnson gives a realistic glimpse into the complex minds of teens and young adults . I found myself first regarding characters as selfish and naive, and then being won over by compassion for them.

  • Pontiac, MI

    Teenage lives are often written about, but this delivers prose so intricate, making it feel new again. It beautifully weaves the lives of CA high schoolers and the haunting past that binds them.

  • Muncie, IN

    Beautifully written with great insight to the lives of young adults. As a teacher, there were passages that seemed to be written about the real students in my everyday classroom. Very relatable.

  • King , NC

    THIS BOOK was moving, touching and spot on. I have a teenager and this stuff really can happen. At times it was emotionally draining but if you want a quick and great read here it is. Enjoy!!!!

  • clinton, MD

    I have a thing for high school based adult novels and I loved how even after being out of HS for 12 years, this book was still very much relatable, wish she went more in dept w/some charatchers

  • Frederick , MD

    This book has me hooked from the beginning. I loved the characters and watching them all grow and change due to the course of events. High school is a rough place and this book captured that.

  • Homewood, AL

    As a high school teacher, I found this book incredibly intriguing on multiple levels. Most of all, I appreciated it for reminding me of all the various stories people hide about themselves.

  • Savannah, GA

    I couldn't put it down! I loved that it was told through all of the main characters' viewpoints. Lindsey Lee Johnson showed just how make-or-break social media can be for teens. Great read.

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