Trust Exercise

Winner, National Book Awards 2019 for Fiction

ISBN 9781250309884
Henry Holt & Company / Macmillan Publishers
Susan Choi

Susan Choi is the author of the novels My Education, A Person of Interest, American Woman, and The Foreign Student. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.

As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, and about friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

Judges Citation

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi blends the intellectual rigor of post-modern technique with a story that is timely, mesmerizing, and, in the end, unsettling. The exploration of different character perspectives lays bare the myth-making of the self and the damage that storytelling can do to others. Choi’s virtuoso accomplishment on the sentence level is often extraordinary—and pivots in astonishing and non-traditional directions while conforming to traditional ideas of excellence.

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Susan Choi accepts the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction for Trust Exercise

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