Monday, April 12, 2021

All Girls by Emily Layden

An all-girls boarding school in a hilly corner of Connecticut, Atwater is a haven for progressive thinking and feminist intellectuals. The students are smart, driven and worldly; they are also teenagers, learning to find their way. But when they arrive on campus for the start of the Fall term, they're confronted with startling news: an Atwater alumna has made a troubling allegation of sexual misconduct against an unidentified teacher. As the weeks wear on and the administration's efforts to manage the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary young women come to realise that the adults in their lives may not be the protectors they previously believed.

All Girls unfolds over the course of one tumultuous academic year and is told from the point of view of a small cast of diverse, interconnected characters as they navigate the social mores of prep school life and the broader, more universal challenges of growing up. The trials of adolescent girlhood are pitched against the backdrop of sexual assault, consent, anxiety and the ways that our culture looks to young women as trendsetters, but otherwise silences their voices and discounts their opinions. The story that emerges is a richly detailed, impeccably layered, and emotionally nuanced depiction of what it means to come of age in a female body today.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher John Murray Press, and the author in return for an honest review.

I liked the sound of this book, set in an All Girls Boarding school, what fun this could be! The story focuses on a historical allegation of sexual assault and rape, made by a former student against a teacher. The school newspaper/magazine try to get involved and the school try to keep it under wraps as much as they can. We see a lot of similar stories from girls, which all tie into the theme of the book, and it’s what I knew and expected to happen. But the biggest downfall was that there were far too many characters and it took a lot away from the story. I got confused between girls, forgot who was who and what happened to each girl.

I have this 3 and half stars as it has an important theme, but I couldn’t eat past the many voices in the book.

Thank you to John Murray Press and as always the author, Emily Layden.

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