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Book review: ‘The Duke of Bannerman Prep’ is a high-intensity read shrouded in secrets

"THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP," by Katie A. Nelson, Sky Pony Press, $17.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)

Tanner McKay has lived and breathed debate ever since he realized his innate talent for the subject. So when he’s offered a scholarship to the impressive Bannerman Prep, he knows he’s found his ticket to the future in “The Duke of Bannerman Prep.” With a name like Bannerman on his transcripts, college opportunities will be opened and he’ll be able to afford the nice cars he’s only ever admired.

But when his debate teacher teams him with Andrew Tate, the most popular boy at the school whose wealth and popularity are only rivaled by the elaborate tales told about him, he’s even more aware of his lower-class upbringing. The Duke, as Andrew is known, seems to be above every rule and curfew. As Tanner becomes enmeshed in Bannerman and the high-rolling lifestyle of the Duke, his down-to-earth upbringing is easily forgotten and he finds himself in a world he’s suddenly uncomfortable with.

Katie Nelson’s book is highly addictive and difficult to put down, something that’s expected of a Whitney Award finalist. While the pace and writing of her novel are phenomenal, readers may feel unfulfilled with the ending. There are several loose ends that aren’t tied up, and Nelson’s book reads like it’s missing a few chapters.

For those unfamiliar with the world of debate, its nuances and high-energy are fascinating to read about. The war of words is only eclipsed by Nelson’s wonderful writing style and the mystery surrounding the Duke and whether Tanner’s life will be ruined or elevated by association.

“The Duke of Bannerman Prep” is geared towards teen and older readers. This book has a handful of profanities and crudities, but violence is almost nonexistent. While kissing is specified, sex is obliquely alluded to.

Nelson is a former debate teacher who lives with her family in California.

“The Duke of Bannerman Prep” is a finalist for the 2017 Whitney Awards in the young adult general category. The Whitney Awards recognize the work of authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was also a finalists for an Association for Mormon Letters Award in the young adult category.

Elizabeth Reid thinks the Great Depression is fascinating, so she earned bachelor's degrees in both economics and history. A wife and mother, she blogs at