How do you survive a boarding school full of rich kids when you’re the new kid on scholarship? For Juniper, it’s with a lot of perseverance and Cassie by her side.
There’s not much to note about Ellsmere Academy itself. I imagine it’s a beautiful school—it’s very much like walking into “a Disneyland postcard” as Juniper describes it, but I wish there were more panels showcasing the beauty of it. It just looks like a generic school that isn’t very memorable.
The friendship between Juniper and Cassie is the highlight of One Year at Ellsmere. Both outcasts—one being a new scholarship kid (who’s headstrong and is no pushover) and the other being bullied for her parents not being around (who’s shy and unfortunately a bit of a pushover). I love the way they relied on each other and pumped each other up to the point that they gain confidence to achieve things that they wouldn’t normally do. That’s friendship, and it’s so cute.
There’s a vein of magic that came out of left field.. There’s a vein of magic that came out of left field. I was not expecting this lore to pop up the way it did. I wish this was hinted throughout the story—at least hiding in art of the background of the panels. It actually adds excitement and gives the Academy a bit of mystery and individuality that sets it apart from other stories, but because it happened so suddenly, it felt so out of place and didn’t fit with the general story.
It relies too much on overused tropes and stereotypes. Because of that, everybody is very one-dimensional, especially the mean girls. Nobody grows from their actions, and they don’t face real consequences of their actions. It’s like if you can bully somebody and get caught trying to get them kick out of school, it’s totally okay because they won’t face real consequences. This graphic novel is filled with shallow characters; it’s just generally a shallow story about a mean girl bullying the main character with no depth behind its story.
Who should read One Year at Ellsmere? Readers who want a simply story about Juniper going head to toe with a mean girl?
Should you read One Year at Ellsmere? I say yes for the art and friendship between Juniper and Cassie, but a pass on the predictable story.