Be careful what you wish for, because you may just get it. This is a lesson that Eleanor, unfortunately, is forced to learn the hard way. She, like every young girl, anxiously waits to see if she will receive her letter; an invitation to attend the Estuary, the Glades, or the Meadows. These are places where only the best and the brightest are invited to attend, but Eleanor soon learns that sometimes things aren’t always as they seem from the outside, and the Meadows has some secrets of its own, including its actual mission in relation to the young girls that grace its halls.
Four years later Eleanor is working as an adjudicator, traveling to the homes of her former classmates to see if they are following the paths laid out for them or whether they are straying from that path and falling into old habits, habits that Eleanor herself is having a hard time staying away from. Forced to choose from what is expected of her and what she actually wants in life, Eleanor must decide what, and who, is important, and what she is willing to do to live the life she wants as the person she is.
While this novel started out quite slow, it definitely built itself up into an intriguing tale that greatly applies to the world today. Oakes jumps between the two different timelines to tell the story, revealing relevant details and events in a way that creates wonder and a bit of suspense. It was extremely effective at revealing Eleanor’s journey throughout her time at the Meadows and as an adjudicator, along with those individuals that have played a part in her life. There are so many themes and character traits found in The Meadows that are prevalent in today’s society, making it a very relevant young adult novel. I really enjoyed the characters and found them to be well developed and relatable, as well as diverse in their personalities and desires. There were aspects of the ending that truly took me by surprise and I loved seeing those characters that persevered and ultimately lived their truths find themselves where they did.