Cover Image: My Last Innocent Year

My Last Innocent Year

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Member Reviews

I loved this. Devoured it. It felt like a lot of the books I've read about student/teacher affairs and campus politics and confusing sexual encounters, but it was just done so well, it felt refreshing. Need more of this author!!
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~ARC provided by NetGalley~

"My Last Innocent Year" lives solidly in a little niche forming in literary fiction that explores toxic, unbalanced relationships in your early 20s. The plot is set against the backdrop of a prestigious, liberal arts college in New Hampshire, where the protagonist is a hopeful writer taking a creative writing seminar during her senior year. She falls into an affair with one of her professors, which brings of questions of consent, power dynamics, and coming of age. Some of these themes are very obvious--especially given the multiple references to Monica Lewinsky--however, the contemplations on adulthood and how men are given license to act childishly set this book apart for me. I honestly wish it was longer and went more in-depth into the mystery and dynamics involved.
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If I didn't have to work, I would have finished this in one sitting, because I just needed to live in Isabel's world. I needed to experience her perspectives. I wanted to slip completely and utterly into her life. 

My Last Innocent year is a beautifully-written story in the backdrop of the Wilder University's class of 1998's final semester. In particular we follow Isabel as she finds her stride in writing and begins a relationship with one of her professors. Within this novel, we get to experience the universal feeling of the final semester of college, the excitement and the anxiety of being thrown out into the real world for the first time. 

We also get to feel the impact of how even at a young age society allows the power structure between men and women to envelope us and force us into acceptance. Isabel is assaulted at the very beginning of this novel and yet she questions if it was actually assault. Her thoughts begin to mature as we get a glimpse at her twenty years later, but her younger self makes excuses for the way men treat, assault and groom women. In the moment, Isabel is unaware that she is being groomed by her professor because the way he sweet talks her through praise of her writing and promising her a life that he knows he cannot give her. 

Both the assault and the grooming was reflected on stunningly and truly reminds readers that this behavior is not okay. Womanhood is hard and at times, we wonder if we are actually women or girls in this world. Maybe that has something to say more about society than who we are. In the end, we must ask ourselves, when we look back on everything that happened, what do we tell out younger selves? Do we change the events that happened or do we accept the past and let the rest unravel?
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This was a tough read, but in the best possible way. As someone with a background working in academia, I'm always drawn to a novel that takes place on a college campus. Though tragic, I found this novel to be very impactful and realistic - certainly relationships like this happen on college campuses everywhere but it does not make it any less confusing and hurtful. This book will be integral in the many students who are impacted in this way to feel seen and heard and understood,

Isabel isn't the most likable character and the way she treated her father hurt me to my core, but I think she's the right narrator for the book. I'll also say I loved the setting and the time period, but wish it'd drawn more on the parallels between the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal as the blurb insinuates.
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I enjoyed this book a lot! I don’t always go for literary fiction, but I do appreciate a good sad girl, dark academia vibe and this certainly didn’t disappoint. For the most part, I liked the style of writing that felt very intimate to the narrator Isabel and red like a stream of consciousness. Isabel reflects a lot on the context of her emotions and actions in the late 90s as a college student which I found very engaging and helped me to connect with her more. I saw some comparisons to My Dark Vanessa and feel like this book wasn’t quite as salacious or dramatic but I can certainly see some parallels in Isabel’s navigation of the world and relationships around her. Overall, I would recommend this book. It was a fairly quick read but still felt immersive.
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An engaging, introspective, coming of age story. I always love a good campus novel so was drawn to pick this one up. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
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A beautifully written novel that takes on power dynamics, consent, and more, all in the pre-#MeToo era of the last 90's. I found the language around these tough topics lyrical and excellent, and Isabel is a very compelling protagonist. This book is perfectly situated in time (the backdrop is the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal) and that serves to heighten the stakes throughout. Loved it!
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Sigh. What a disappointment. 

The premise alludes to an important topic being explored and yet it felt like the author had nothing to say about the story she was telling. The quality of prose is there, but all in all, its as if nothing was said. It is difficult to feel connected to the characters and story, and that should be almost impossible considering that this story is about an experience that elicits an endless number of emotions, thoughts, conversations etc.

This novel added nothing to the conversation of consent, and it was unclear which age group was the intended audience. Perhaps it was meant to be new adult, but even then, this book is just lacking. 

I imagine that with Florin's lyrical prose, her future writings may be better, but this was disguised as a story that had something to say when it was really just a pretty cover and no plot, characterization and real voice.
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A frank coming of age story; direct and honest. A senior at Wilder College, Isabel, isn't yet sure of her place in the world. She wants to write, but doesn't have much self confidence, easily led by those around her. Enter the alluring Professor Connelly, who seems to be the first to see her potential as a writer.  The affair they begin will help shape her into the woman she becomes. 

A lot is discussed in this novel: the loss of a parent, rape, extramarital affairs, abuse, depression... the list goes on. But, this is a beautifully written novel, and I found it easy to connect with Isabel. The first person pov, with the protagonist looking back at the past with today's eyes, is perfect for this kind of coming of age story. I think a lot of women will easily relate to this one.
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My Last Innocent Year is an interesting character study about a young woman in her final year at a remote prestigious university in New Hampshire. It's set in 1998, when the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal was all over the media. The story is told in Isabella's perspective and somewhat slow-paced. Isabella is in her early 20s, Jewish, from a small working-class family in New York. We learn about her parents and background as she navigates college, her senior thesis, and romantic entanglements. She is pursuing an English degree and is very involved in the department and is deeply enamored with her creative writing professor. Through her relationships, the story probes at questions like,  how do we define consensual and can we understand the power dynamics at play in relationships, especially when we're young? Overall, an intriguing coming of age novel. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for providing this ebook / audiobook ARC. All thoughts are my own.
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Its a great story set on a college campus featuring a young woman trying to come of age as she graduates from a prestigious tight knit university. I enjoy the candor, the voice, and the overall mood of the book. Def would recommend to people for reading.
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I really enjoyed this book! Initially it was just the pretty/aesthetic cover that drew me in, but then I also saw reviews saying it was a great coming-of-age story about a messy young woman and, well - I do love myself a good mess 😅 I'll be honest: This is definitely more character-driven than plot, imo. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing! Personally, I love character-driven stories and so it didn't bother me as much that sometimes it felt like things were moving at a languid pace. I found the writing to be very fluid and accessible, with plenty of great moments for reflection/introspection throughout. There are some difficult topics discussed/mentioned within the pages of this book, but I thought the author handled then all pretty well all things considered. I'd definitely recommend this book out to all my friends/fellow readers who enjoy literary fiction, and am excited to see what else this author comes out with in the future!
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'my last innocent year' is a  coming of age story, following isabel on her journey of self-discovery as she navigates her college life and the challenges of growing older. if you enjoy ‘sad girl lit fic’, coming of age stories or campus novels, check this one out.
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“We were girls in the bodies of women. We bought condoms with our father’s credit cards, drank sloe gin fizzes, and slept with stuffed animals on our beds.” On the heels of an unwanted sexual encounter with a friend, Isabel Rosen, an aspiring writer, becomes embroiled in an affair with her college professor. Meanwhile, the 90s turn into the 2000s with Monica Lewinsky and the heydey of third wave feminism in the background. He said “and just remember, later, when you write about all this and say you were a victim, you weren’t. You were never the victim.” While this book certainly explores some ruinous themes, I think any woman will be able to relate. What is rape? What is consent? Maybe it’s something different than you considered. If you liked My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel, Paul by Daisy Lefarge, or any other “dark academia” tropes, this is a great one.
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📝 literary, eloquent, fluid, thoughtful writing
🏃‍♀️ character driven
💿 90s setting
👩‍🏫 dark academia
✍️ writer vibes
✡️ Jewish representation 
🚺 explores a female experience of SA
❤️‍🩹 + forbidden affair with a professor 
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 + family dynamics
🧠 + mental health
🌱 coming of age themes
💰 + wealth & status
🎭 quietly dramatic
🪞 reflective
🌪️ twisty (but just at the end)
⚠️ dm me for TW!
🧶 a bit too much going on
🦥 on the slower side
VERDICT: an eloquent, thoughtful, reflective, quietly dramatic portrait of a woman coming of age in the aftermath of a SA + in the throws of an affair with her professor in a dark academic setting - a great debut!
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I'm unsure how to review this one. It was well-constructed and written decently with an engaging storyline. I felt very detached from the character the entire time so I wasn't able to connect with the book as much as I would've liked.
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Beautifully written campus novel and great portrait of an affair between a younger woman and a professor... I think the end was weaker than the beginning and middle, but really enjoyed it nonetheless.
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The hip will call this dark academia, I will call this an introspective coming-of-age. Told from dual timelines, My Last Innocent Year follows naïve Isabel Rosen and the events at her New England college that mark her. At Wilder, Isabel is one of the few Jewish students on campus and, further, one of the few students that does not come from wealth. One evening she has a nonconsensual encounter with a fellow Jewish student, one that leaves her reeling, questioning everything, and soon the topic of discussion. Desperate to succeed as a writer, Isabel tries to puts it behind her, but she soon ties sex to approval and finds herself in a murky affair with her writing professor. Timely, evocative, and beautifully written, My Last Innocent Year is a stunning tale of femininity, power, and that moment adulthood shifts into being.

I have been looking forward to My Last Innocent Year for some time, knowing it would leave a mark on me. Daisy Alpert Florin tackles many subjects at once, capturing the entanglement of qualities and events that mark a moment. Isabel is not just a student who experiences a nonconsensual encounter, she is a minority in multiple ways, she is a student, and she is let down by the adults that are meant to protect her. Oftentimes we fixate on one thing, but it is the amalgamation of all of these that mark Isabel, that change her, that change those around her.

Told in a slow, insightful way, My Last Innocent Year is a story of self discovery and womanhood. It is Isabel's story of youth and the impact her college years continue to have on her into adulthood. It is a rushing leap into adulthood and a slow catch up of her naïve, youthful thoughts. It is poignant, introspective tale that is relatable and a truly standout debut.
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My Last Innocent Year seamlessly blends the most compelling and interesting parts of campus novels, MeToo stories, and coming of age tales into one sharp piece of lit fic. 

Isabel’s story pulls you in from the first chapter, detailing a nonconsensual encounter with a fellow student and the fallout from that night as she becomes romantically involved with one of her professors. In many ways, it feels like a more grounded companion piece to last year’s buzzy Vladimir. 

Florin does an amazing job of capturing that time period when you are an adult (but aren’t really) and Isabel’s inner monologue and the way she saw the world was often relatable. Consent and power dynamics in relationships are discussed in a really nuanced way, and framing Isabel’s story against the backdrop of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal made the themes even stronger.

If I had to name one thing I didn’t like about this one it would be its lack of urgency. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t often feel a need to keep reading and found myself frequently putting it down and coming back to it (which doesn’t often happen with books I like). Also, are we now considering books set in the 1990s as historical fiction??? Because that makes me feel old. 

My Last Innocent Year is out now. Thanks to Holt, Henry, and Co. and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a really compelling read from start to finish. While I would have loved to hear a little bit more about our main character in present-time, overall I really liked this one.
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