I am actively seeking the representation of a literary agent to shepherd this to the right publishing destination.
Tom Rachman’s THE IMPERFECTIONISTS meets Tom Perrotta’s ELECTION in DECORUM. Interwoven collusions and illicit relationships revolve around high school senior Ginny Constable. At a new school and on the brink of adulthood, she must find their way forward as her family is torn apart. Her parents’ new careers lead to allegiances on opposite sides of a senate race, and a story manufactured by a local journalist unfurls a scandal with far-reaching implications.
It is the start of the election season in Hawkeye country. Every four years, political firestorms race across the prairie as presidential candidates swarm the state. No one in elected office is safe, including state senator Ainsley Mathieson. She has little to show for her first term in office, as Jack Adair, her campaign manager and chief of staff, constantly warns. Opposing candidate Gabe Martinez, a popular restaurateur and civic leader (who happens to employ Ginny’s mother, Hanna), poses a genuine threat to her re-election. Rhetoric soon rises to the boiling point.
Meanwhile, Ginny only wants to graduate and head to college. The only person she befriends at her new school is Tyler Mathieson—Ginny’s academic advisor and Ainsley’s husband. Shy by nature and feeling lonely, Ginny spends most of her lunch hours in Tyler’s office. Soon, she starts spending most of her weekends babysitting for Cecile, the Mathiesons’ daughter. While she does draw unwanted attention from fellow classmate Brodie Chapman, she only sees him as an annoyance, always sparring during political debates that crop up during their shared Sociology class.
As the campaign season continues, Ainsley and Jack become increasingly desperate. They run a commercial alleging that Gabe once had an adulterous affair with his friend turned campaign manager, Laila Marshall. The tactic backfires. Gabe and Laila reveal the full nature of their complicated yet endearing relationship, and Ainsley’s carefully-crafted public image begins to unravel.
By the spring, Ginny succumbs to Brodie’s incessant pursuit, and the two drive across the state for a concert in Iowa City. What begins as a pleasant day trip soon devolves. Adding further insult, Brodie returns to school bragging of his fabricated sexual exploits. Pushed to her limit after a day of being maligned and bullied, she confronts Brodie in the middle of the high school cafeteria. Emotionally exhausted after her tirade, Ginny runs to find Tyler to unload her burden and crumble in his arms.
This couldn’t happen at a more inopportune time. Knowing neither of the rumors surrounding Ginny and Tyler nor the attack she’s survived the weekend before, Jack has arranged for Tyler to be interviewed for a campaign-bolstering personality piece on that very afternoon. The journalist is political reporter Chuck Chapman, who just happens to be Brodie’s stepfather. When Chuck arrives just after his son’s public debasing, Brodie sees his opportunity for ultimate revenge.
Ginny weathers the onslaught prompted by Chuck’s expose, but the media is relentless. Pushed to her limits, Ginny calls a press conference to give the public her side of the story. Rather than another juicy article, it is Chuck’s resignation letter that goes viral the next day, printed as a Letter to the Editor in the morning’s newspaper.
As told in the prologue, Chuck and Jack, ostensible adversaries, become allies to vindicate Ginny and, with any luck, salvage their careers and self-respect. The novel plays out as a series of interviews and conversations conducted by Chuck and Jack as they discover the whole, unbiased truth.
New Adult novels rarely range from the romantic genre, but interpersonal relationships like those explored in DECORUM consume both the readers in this age group and beyond. Thematically, “politics” work on several levels in this story. I think readers will identify how bravely Ginny handles the challenges she faces and overcomes.