Raise you’re hand if you went to an all girls school for high school! I did and honestly I think it really influenced my rating on this story.
At it’s core All Girls is a coming of age story that takes place at a prestigious all girls boarding school. Set in 2015 but highly influenced by events that occurred at the school in 1995, this book gave me all the nostalgia. I even texted my high school group chat about this book because so many of the actions and attitudes in this book were to a T what we use to do/say.
Okay, back to the book. All Girls is really more like short stories than a full fledge novel. Each section is told through a different girls perspective, and while I enjoyed getting to intimately know each of the girls, there are ALOT of characters to remember. Each girl’s parts though end up end up describing and adding onto the same main topic: what really happened in 1995 when a student claimed her teacher raped her. They also all lead up to the bigger theme of, what do boarding schools do to protect their students from assault.
If I’m being honest, I really loved getting to know each girl and seeing the events transpire from their perspective. It allows for such an intimate relationships with a multitude of girls and given their distinctive and interesting back stories, it’s hard to imagine only seeing these events from 1 or 2 narrators instead. But the mass amounts of characters you need to remember ultimately brought my rating down a star, since I found myself having to stop and refocus who we were reading about.
This is really an incredible debut that tackles some of the hard questions many campuses, both high school and university, are facing today with the ‘Me Too’ movement. We also get a look into what ‘consent’ looked at not just in the present day but also back in 1995, and Layden does a great job of comparing societies reactions and handling of these situations.
If you are looking for a good book that handles the topic of sexual assault and what schools are doing in the ‘Me Too’ movement, or if you also went to either a boarding school of an all girls high school than give this book a try. If you don’t enjoy books that have a ton of main character to keep track of than you’ll want to pass on All Girls.
All Girls comes out February 16, 2021. Huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for my advanced copy for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.