Dickensen Academy

Dickensen Academy

by Christine Grabowski

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Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

When tragedy strikes, Autumn must learn to believe in her own power and stand up to her greatest fear or risk having her memories destroyed to protect the school’s secrets. Caught between secrets and dreams, can she find her true self?

Product Details

BN ID: 2940161849330
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: 09/12/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 670 KB
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.

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Dickensen Academy 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Jessiej0608 More than 1 year ago
Great read: a familiar story but with an intriguing new idea! I decided to read Dickensen Academy, by new author Christine Grabowski, because I am always looking for interesting new young adult fiction for my twelve-year-old. Dickensen Academy was a very fun read which pulled me into the story and peaked my curiosity from the first sentence, “Clues to the secret existed from day one, yet they appeared to belong in separate puzzles.” The novel reads a little bit like a mystery, giving the reader clues to the secret at Dickensen Academy slowly. And, this secret is a very interesting one. The story is familiar in that it reminded me a little bit of both the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series. It features a protagonist, Autumn, who is accepted to a unique high school and quickly discovers that the students are being taught more than just the standard curriculum. It is a very intriguing concept. I only wish the author would have delved more into the ethical issues surrounding the secret teachings at Dickensen Academy. Anytime people tap into the mysteries of the mind, it seems there will be positive and negative consequences. I think it would have enriched the story to explore this a little bit more. The author does hint at the possibility of a darker side, explaining that there are moments where Autumn gets the “creeps” about the secret teachings but that is as far as it goes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dickensen Academy. The characters are well developed and quite likable. The author did a great job of capturing teen angst from a female perspective. I think this book would appeal to pre-teens and teens alike, probably girls more than boys, but boys might enjoy the story and it is not too heavy on the “girl stuff.” I truly hope this is the first in a series. Dickensen Academy covers Autumn’s experiences during only her freshman year of high school. I would love to know what happens next and if the teachings (and their consequences) become more complex.
Bobbie Kirkland More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of DICKENSEN ACADEMY by Christine Grabowski in exchange for an honest review. We meet Autumn Mattison on her first day of ninth grade. She has just arrived at Dickensen Academy for orientation. Autumn is sad to leave her friends, brother, and mother, but she’s excited to spend some time away from her hypercritical, micromanaging father. Autumn is determined to step outside of her routine behavior to become who she wants to be. This is Autumn’s journey to finding herself, her path, and her personal power while overcoming the low self-esteem caused by an emotionally abusive parent. She does this in the setting of a private boarding school rife with intrigue and mysteries. That intrigue and those mysteries are a big part of the storyline and a lot of fun, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise by discussing them in detail. I enjoyed the book. I think you will, too. #DickensenAcademy #NetGalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave me chills from the start. Autumn is selected to attend a unique, invitation-only boarding high school in a remote area of Washington State. When she arrives, she and the other freshmen have no idea that the school has a secret curriculum of dream-creating and conveying. Christine describes dream-making in a way that makes it seem like a real possibility. The book's protagonist, Autumn, deals with typical teenage issues such as boys, friends and homework and is a very likable and relatable character who has some misgivings about her abilities. I found myself rooting for her in her successes and empathizing with her struggles as Autumn unravels the mysteries of her school. I really hope there is a second book; it left me wanting more and I'd love to see this story continue.
Reader_Views More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Autumn (age 13) for Reader Views Kids (8/18) “Dickensen Academy” by Christine Grabowski is a story that keeps you wondering if what you are reading is part of a dream or actually real? Autumn Mattison is your average 15-year-old who is about to start her first year in high school. But not just any high school, a private school called Dickensen Academy. This school is by invitation only and located in the middle of nowhere, tucked among large evergreens and mountains. Since the school can only be attended by those who meet certain criteria, tests were held over the summer to find just the right candidates. Autumn soon develops friendships with several of her classmates including her roommate Aditi and a boy by the name of Ben, who she remembers from summer testing. As everything she experiences at the academy starts to feel like she has somehow already done it, she starts to question why it all seems so familiar. Not until later in the school year do Autumn and her classmates find that her classes are about to take a strange twist. Struggling with her unusual class curriculum, Autumn starts to worry if she will be sent home because she doesn’t have the special abilities all her friends have already started to master. Getting kicked out of this type of school could involve all sorts of unnerving consequences for her. Only after a terrible accident will she discover she can live up to the school’s expectations and find that she too has the special gift of Dream-Making. I really liked, “Dickensen Academy.” My favorite part of the story was how I was always wondering if, when I turned the page, whether what the character was experiencing was real or a dream. I thought there would have been more to Caitlyn and her abilities, but maybe that will come in later books? I guess my favorite character would have to be Autumn because she overcame her shyness and made an effort to be part of any activity that she was offered. The setting of the story was described so well you felt like you were there with Autumn and her friends during their dream classes and around campus. I would have liked to have had more adventurous dream experiences in the story line as it was the unusual part I liked so much about “Dickensen Academy.” I hope the author makes this into a series as I would like to find out what happens to Autumn and her friends in the next 3 years at school. I’d also like to see how her dream-making abilities become more advanced and why dream-making is such an important talent and how it is used outside of school. I would recommend “Dickensen Academy” by Christine Grabowski for middle school aged kids, as I think they would really enjoy the unusual experience of this academy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many things that I enjoyed about Christine Grabowski's first book, Dickensen Academy. It is a wonderfully written book that takes place in the mountains of the northwest. You are taken on the journey of Autumn's first year at a mysterious boarding school. It shows the deep relationships she has with friends at school, family and how each of those change. Each time I put the book down I was left wanting to come back and read more! It is a refreshing, clean read that would be great for tweens and teens. I enjoyed it as an adult as well! At the conclusion, I was left wanting to hear more and learn about what happens in the rest of Autumn's high school years. I'm looking forward to reading more of Christine Grabowski's books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A delightful read for young teens. I find that most young adult novels fall into one of two categories: they are either heavily fantastical or firmly rooted in reality. Dickensen Academy is a gratifying blend of both worlds. The fantasy elements are subtle—they add sparkle to the storyline—but never overshadow Autumn’s real-world problems. Most teens will relate to her challenges: dealing with an overbearing parent, struggling to do well in school, and riding the emotional roller coaster of a first crush. Readers can’t help root for Autumn as she perseveres to overcome obstacles and discover where she belongs. As a native Washingtonian, I enjoyed the story’s setting in the Cascade Mountains. The descriptions of the forests were authentic and fresh. Grabowski does a masterful job depicting the boarding school as a place insulated from the outside world not only by trees and mountains, but by the secrets it hides.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trying not to give away any spoilers, the story focuses on a high school freshman girl who attends a boarding school that teaches kids a unique talent, which she learns about after moving in. I thought the story concept with this “talent” was creative and clever, and could see it explored more in future installments. As someone who lives in the Northwest, I enjoyed the setting too, with many well-described familiar places/scenes. I found the characters to be relatable and likeable. The story includes topics that will appeal to the younger teen, like angst and insecurity, an overbearing parent, a romantic crush, etc. I felt the book would be most appealing to middle school age kids (e.g. ages 11-13).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter couldn’t put it down! Once my 12-year-old daughter started reading this book she couldn’t put it down! We just received the book last week, and she is already re-reading it. Here is her review: Dickensen Academy is a delightfully imaginative book about a girl named Autumn attending a boarding school that is not what it seems. I love the character development in this book. At first Autumn is shy, and reluctant to talk to her classmates, but throughout the story she becomes more and more outgoing, making lots of new friends. I also love the creativity in this story. It made me wonder what it would be like to be able to send dreams to someone and communicate with them in their sleep! This book has quickly become one of my personal favorites, and I know many others will also enjoy this remarkable story. Review by M.W., age 12.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dickensen Academy is the debut novel by author Christine Grabowski. Cover to end, this book was amazing. In just looking at the cover, the book pulled me in. You see what Autumn Mattison sees – a large daunting structure – but there is a hint of innocence with her braided hair and bright pink flowers. You wonder along with her, what is to come. This book follows the story of Autumn who gets accepted into a boarding school in a remote area of Washington State. She quickly learns that this may not be the great opportunity she thought it would be. She becomes part of a magical world where she get immersed in typical teenage issues, but also into the dark and often obscure secrets of the school. She realizes that her acceptance here wasn’t about her grades or character, but because she has an unusual “gift”. The path she follows in her first year at the school is one of excitement, familiarity, intrigue, shock, and ultimately contentment. She meets other kids who apparently possess the same unusual "gift" as her as they all get enthralled in this new world. Each chapter is a new experience, and while you wonder if it’s reality, you also end up rooting for Autumn as each page turns. Christine creates a full cast of characters in an intriguing and mysterious setting. The characters are likable and believable, even when the unbelievable is happening. The writing is simple, detailed, and descriptive. You really feel like you are there experiencing it with Autumn. There is suspense, adventure, friendships, dreams, and romance. The characters grow both personally and together as a group. Christine uses creativity, imagination, and mystery in a brilliant way to develop and reveal her story. I really enjoyed this book and Autumn’s story. Definitely put this book on your reading list, if you enjoy YA.
Zpa More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Christine Grabowski’s Dickensen Academy and recommend it to everyone who enjoys Young Adult novels that have a sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal component. Being retired, I am obviously not part of the target group for this book. But I love young adult novels that have well developed characters that I can relate to, and a book which can take me back in time to the excitement and fears of my teenage years. This book did that for me. I think everyone will love the main character, Autumn—a seemingly typical teenage girl trying to find her own identity. As just an average student, Autumn was surprised at her selection to the Dickensen Academy--an elite high school in Washington State noted for its emphasis on academics. Dickensen boards its students at a remote campus located in the mountains of Washington State; while this was a bit concerning to Autumn’s parents, they thought the fewer distractions there would create a better learning environment. But, as Autumn was to soon learn, that was not the real reason for the seclusion. Shortly after settling in at Dickensen for her freshman year, Autumn and her classmates started getting clues there was a big secret about Dickenson that none of the freshmen knew about. Everyone was puzzled about what was really going on, and their anxiety was fueled by having no cell phone service and poor internet capability. Soon the school president confirmed their suspicion when he told the freshmen about the primary reason they were selected to attend Dickensen. He explained that the preadmission testing showed each selected student had the capability to learn a powerful skill that was thought to be impossible by the outside world, and each student would learn to develop this skill during their 4 years at Dickensen. He stressed the vital importance of keeping this skill a secret. Teaching the students how to perform this unique skill forms the basis of this book. Grabowski wove a wonderful, gripping, and suspenseful story around Autumn and her classmates learning to cope with the nature of the skill and to learn the basic techniques needed to perform it. But Autumn and her friends wondered how Dickensen could keep its mission a secret, and what would happen to persons using the skill for evil purposes. Autumn also had some major obstacles rear up that looked like they would force her to leave Dickensen. How she tries to overcome the setbacks leads to an emotional and very fitting conclusion. I want to make two other points that might interest potential readers. First, upon finishing this book I clearly thought sequels would be in order. Autumn was only in her first year at Dickensen and surely many other exciting events could unfold with her new skill as she finishes up her schooling there or somewhere else…and also after she graduates. I really hope Christine has sequels in her plan as I am anxious to read them! Second, the Dickensen story seems to be a great fit for the silver screen—the secret, how to keep it hidden, how to keep it from being abused, and the possibility of sequels could be of great interest to producers.
Zma More than 1 year ago
The beautiful jacket cover of Dickensen Academy both attracts and intrigues readers, and within the first few pages, like the students themselves, we are caught up in the mystery of wondering why these particular students were invited to attend this little-known, but academically strong, secluded high school. Through easy and natural conversations and emotions, the author’s beautifully simple writing style and descriptions flow so easily we are surprised at how much we are learning about her characters. I loved Autumn, through whose eyes and feelings the book is centered, and who herself admits she is too quiet, has a shaky ego, and is nothing special. I also loved the diversity of the characters who were invited to Dickensen, and how easy it was to visualize and enjoy each one’s unique personality through Autumn’s thoughts and observations. And lastly, I loved the atmosphere of the school itself and the friendships made. I would have loved to go there. I enjoyed Dickensen Academy and hopefully will be able to read more about Autumn and her friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main character, Autumn Mattison, grabbed my heart from the first chapter, and the author, Christine Grabowski, took me back to my own school days. The setting descriptions were vivid, the dialogues flowed naturally, and the story line was very different from most YA novels, which may be the reason I enjoyed this book so much. I was immediately drawn to Autumn because of her sweet innocence and yet feisty loyalty to friends. Her story depicted the true emotions of a typical teenager trying to fit in at a new school, and Grabowski’s clean, crisp writing make this a perfect YA novel. The young characters are richly developed, the story is thought-provoking, and the author’s writing style is descriptive and persuasive. Grabowski has thrown a clever spin into the academic story line, and she makes that twist believable. The author’s relaxed narration of both the simple and complex teenage years makes this novel an easy read but, without revealing too much, what will keep your attention the entire time is the unusualness of the tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Captivating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though this book is written for teen girls it was a pleasure to read it as an adult. It was fun to be transported into the unpredictable world of Autumn Mattison’s new life at Dickensen Academy. Reading from the view point of Autumn really let me feel what she was going through in all the ups and downs she experienced in her first year at the school and had me on the edge of my seat many times. I can see teen girls really relating to and enjoying this book. Dickensen Academy has a magical and Harry Potter like feel. I am impressed by the author's imagination and very clever theme. The story goes in so many interesting directions and would make a great fantasy type movie. I can easily see this storyline being a series of books and hope the author writes more to continue the adventures of Autumn Mattison and her friends to see what transpires in the rest of their years at Dickensen Academy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book which kept me roped in from the first page, although it probably will be best loved by my teenage daughter. This well written story follows Autumn Mattison as she enters a private boarding school in the mountains near Seattle and her experience as she uncovers the school’s secrets. It captures all the angst of going to a new high school, not knowing any one, and handling a variety of new experiences, and rules. Living in Seattle, it’s also fun to have places and local experiences described in great detail, such as their ski trips to Stevens Pass. It’s a quick fun read, and ends leaving you hoping that it is the start of a series and another is soon to follow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am always looking for great books for my teen daughter and when I started the reading the first paragraphs of Dickensen Academy I was hooked. It is sometimes hard to understand my teen’s mind and reading about the experiences of the main character, Autumn , was great insight into teen challenges. It was fun getting immersed in Autumn’s new life at a new school through her eyes as the book takes you through interesting twists. Dickensen Academy is a true fantasy with some elements of realistic fiction about a young girl and the challenges she faces starting at a new very “unique” school. It really stretches your imagination and its setting is in the beautiful Evergreen state. The author Christine Grabowski does a great job making you feel like you are truly in the Pacific Northwest. This is a fantasy story that will take you through a teen’s thoughts about her relationship with her family, friends, teachers, boys, and of most importantly herself. As the book progresses you can really feel the maturity of Autumn’s character evolve. The unforeseen events, twists, and unconventional school life makes Dickensen Academy a page turner. Every young adult can relate to this story and will find themselves rooting for Autumn as her character, and the characters built around her, are so believable and wonderfully appealing. I highly recommend this book to parents looking for a great book to add to their tween or teens reading list!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ScaroletEllis More than 1 year ago
Dickensen Academy by Christine Grabowski is a wonderful story to read. This is a brand new author for me so when I opened up the story I was not sure what to expect but I loved reading this story. I highly recommend this story to all cause it is a wonderful YA story to read. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
Dickensen Academy is a good young adult novel. I enjoyed Autumn's story. I felt connected to her right from the beginning. I think may other readers would, also. I love her strength in how she deals with what has been thrown at her. I give Dickensen Academy four stars. I would love to see where Christine Grabowski's follow up story takes the reader to next. I recommend Dickensen Academy for older teens. This is a great story. I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dickenson Academy was a really thrilling book! From the beginning you get drawn in to Autumn’s new boarding school and the mysteries it holds. I really enjoyed how after one conflict was solved, another rose up, resulting in a very interesting book. I love the mix of normal everyday life along with the magic of dream making. I also enjoyed how Autumn’s personality changed throughout the book, from her outgoing personality to her motivation in school. This book was really exciting to read, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book with a fun version of a high school boarding school!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The angst and drama of being a "normal" teenager, learning independence, self reliance and how to stand up for yourself, set against the mysterious backdrop of the beautiful, "enchanting" campus of Dickensen Academy and the secrets that lie within, all combine for a wonderful breakthrough novel for first time author Christine Grabowski. This is an enjoyable read, with interesting, well developed characters. It is nice to have a strong female lead character, Autumn, who is relatable to so many teens, as she struggles with her relationship with her father, but grows emotionally and comes of age as she deals with her first year away from home at the boarding school of her dreams. Or is it? You have to read the book to find out the twist and turns, and why this creative school that seems to be perfect for Autumn isn't what it appears to be. Looking forward to reading the next installment of the book. This is a great book for young teens!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that Dickensen Academy was an exciting book that would have you relating to each page, and clinging to each word. I would recommend this book to anyone above 6th grade. The themes that you can relate to are hard parents, accidents, and school. This book is one of my favorites for many reasons. You will be rooting for Autumn throughout the book. One last thing: Don't read it unless you have a few hours because you are not going to put it down.