Episode # 40

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
A Novel

Lindsey Lee Johnson

A debut novel for readers of Everything I Never Told You and Prep, which unleashes a colorful cast of characters into one of the world’s most dangerous places: The American high school.
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On Sale Date:


Random House
288 pgs.
Random House



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The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

In an edenic community of wealthy Bay Area families, Molly Nicholl, a replacement teacher from a poorer, scrubbier version of California arrives in the middle of the school year and soon becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to her, a tragedy from middle school years continues to reverberate for “her” kids. Among these are Callista, a hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own; Ryan the star pitcher and sex object; Dave, the nice kid whose parents’ obsession with his SAT scores threatens to upend his life; Emma, a dancer who balances her dreams of bright stagelights with wildness on the weekends, and Nick, the uneasy kingpin of schemes and pranks and parties. These teens are all navigating a world in which every action may become public—postable, shareable, indelible, a world that Molly finds both alluring and dangerous.

Praise for The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

“In sharp and assured prose, roving between characters, Lindsey Lee Johnson plumbs the terrifying depths of a half-dozen ultra-privileged California high school kids. I read it in two chilling gulps. It’s a phenomenal first book, a compassionate Less Than Zero for the digital age.”
Anthony Doerr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See

“An astonishing debut novel, Lindsey Lee Johnson’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth plunges the reader into the fraught power dynamics between (and among) high school teachers and students with both nuance and fearlessness. With a stunning constellation of characters’ voices and a fiercely compelling story, it’s impossible to put down, or to forget.”
Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me and Dare Me

“The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is a deftly composed mosaic of adolescence in the modern age, frightening and compelling in its honesty…. A terrific debut, and one that I didn’t want to put down.”
Julia Pierpont, New York Times bestselling Among the Ten Thousand Things

“In her superb first novel, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson deftly illuminates a certain strain of privileged American adolescence and the existential minefield these kids are forced to navigate. Elegantly constructed and beautifully written, it reads like Jane Austen for this anxious era.”
Seth Greenland, author of I Regret Everything and The Angry Buddhist

Lindsey Lee Johnson holds an MFA from the University of Southern California and a BA in English from the University of California at Davis. She has taught writing at UCSC, Clark College, and Portland State. www.lindseyleejohnson.com