The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release: July 7, 2015
If the elite of Washington, DC, have a problem that can't be solved… they go to the Kendricks.
When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to stay with her older sister, she has no idea that the famed Ivy Kendrick is the capital's number-one "fixer." For powerful people looking to make a scandal disappear, Tess's sister is there to help—for a price.
And no sooner does Tess enroll at the prestigious Hardwicke School than she unwittingly finds herself following in Ivy's footsteps. Tess never thought she and Ivy had much in common, but when her new friends at school need help, she discovers that her talents quickly make her Hardwicke's go-to high-school fixer.
Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life—until their worlds come crashing together in a conspiracy that reaches from the halls of Hardwicke to Capitol Hill. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics.
The odds are stacked against Tess, and the price for this fix might be more than she can pay.
three reasons to read it
I love stories about highly intelligent problem solvers who use their brains to get what they want, an obsession that is evidenced in everything from my middle grade preferences (recommend me a book in the vein of The Mysterious Benedict Society and we'll be friends for life) to the most recent television show I binge-watched (if you haven't seen Scorpion, you should give it a shot). Both Ivy and Tess match this description to a T. From the first chapter onward, Ivy is efficient, commanding, and brilliant at devising solutions to complex problems—and Tess quickly becomes more and more like her sister as she takes on her own high school-level cases. By the end of the book, I wanted to be more like the two sisters, both in terms of their powerful presence and their practical problem-solving abilities.
Despite Tess's intelligence and natural knack for being a fixer, she still has much to learn. She can handle simple cases without much trouble, but when a high-powered political mystery falls into her hands, she knows when to turn to her sister. Ivy picks up on nuances and dangers Tess would have missed—not by virtue of superior intelligence, but because of superior experience—and while Tess continues to gather evidence, she also recognizes when certain aspects of the investigation are simply over her head. Through this collaboration between Ivy and Tess, Barnes portrays the truth that, while newcomers to a field are often intelligent and talented, they usually require training and guidance from an individual with a longer résumé. In a genre that frequently features inexperienced 16-year-olds saving the world in the face of a dystopian government or other catastrophe, this realism makes The Fixer shine.
Aside from its thrilling mystery plot line, The Fixer also spotlights a fairly broken family fraught with emotions. Tess's parents died when she was young, the grandfather who was her legal guardian for several years is now succumbing to Alzheimer's, and she harbors a resentment toward Ivy for leaving three years ago and barely keeping in touch ever since. Barnes beautifully portrays the emotions corresponding with each relationship, creating periodic refreshing breaks from the main storyline. Even better, the family drama becomes increasingly complex and exciting as the plot moves along and secrets are revealed.
All in all, I loved The Fixer and am on the lookout for more books with a similar psychological writing style. Have you read any of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's books? What other political dramas would you recommend?