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All Girls

Emily Layden

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A keenly perceptive coming-of-age novel set at a prestigious New England prep school, as nine young women navigate their ambitions, friendships, and fears against the backdrop of a scandal the administration wants silenced

A tender and unflinching portrait of modern adolescence told through the shifting perspectives of nine female students, All Girls explores what it means to grow up in a place that promises you the world - when the world still isn't yours for the taking.

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.

'A sincere and poignant and moving story of a group of teenage girls coming to terms with the world they've inherited' Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six

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Praise for All Girls

  • An exciting, innovative debut from a fresh and assured new voice. Emily Layden renders the fictional Atwater School in nuanced, honest, and rich depth, guiding its young characters with a tender and knowing hand. This is a sincere, poignant, and moving story of a group of teenage girls coming to terms with the world they've inherited - Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six

  • Emily Layden's debut, crafted with great care and empathy, is a shimmering, intelligent portrait of young women on the cusp of adulthood, navigating the complex landscape of feminine power and vulnerability - Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z

  • An engrossing novel from start to finish, with characters who feel as real as your best friends and a message that's all too relevant in a world where the boundaries defining consent remain dangerously blurred. I devoured it - Carola Lovering, author of Tell Me Lies

  • Sexual awakening and institutional reckoning intertwine in this rich, kaleidoscopic debut. Layden wholly inhabits a dazzling cast of characters and renders The Atwater School as alive, infuriating, and unforgettable as its inhabitants - Elizabeth Ames, author of The Other s Gold

  • With extraordinary insight and craft, All Girls explores what happens when Atwater, an all-girls boarding school, is rocked by allegations of sexual assault. Emily Layden's debut roves from student to student as they experience Atwater's trials and traditions over the course of a school year. Each of these perceptive, cleverly structured vignettes is a gem, but together they form a wide chorus of nuanced female perspectives. All Girls kept me turning pages not only to uncover its central mystery but to discover something deeper: the surprises and secrets of this riveting cast of characters, in all of their full and complex humanity - Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

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