Cover Image: My Last Innocent Year

My Last Innocent Year

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Isabel has never really found herself in her prestigious New Hampshire college. Until a non-consensual experience with another student. Reeling and confused, Isabel finds solace in her married professor.

This was an amazing read. I had chills at the end. The author truly knows how to write. It can be a bit slow moving at times, but is well worth it in the end. The main character, Isabel, is very well-developed and you really get a great sense of her mind and emotion behind her words; the first person narrative also helps with that. I also liked the mentions of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal and how it occurred simultaneously with Isabel’s college experiences.

“Even then, I could taste the shame that would follow me for a lifetime.”

My Last Innocent Year comes out 2/14.
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I can't exactly explain what this novel was about yet I was glued to it.  The main character, Isabel Rosen is a young woman who lost her mother shortly before leaving for college.  It's evident as the story progresses that she is trying to "find herself" and her place in the world.  Her mother was an artist and her father a business owner.  They were on very opposite ends of the spectrum as far as personalities go.  So, naturally, Isabel is a combination of the two of them which makes it confusing for her.  It's hard to combine an artistic personality with a practical one.  Her heart's desire is to be a published writer, but she also understands the necessity of money to function.

Before you venture into this story, you should read the trigger warnings.  There are serious issues at play in the book such as consensual sex versus lack of consent/rape, suicide, mental health struggles, infidelity/cheating, abuse and more.  

The book basically follows Isabel in her last semester of college, with some flashbacks to her past.  In addition, the author gives you a look to how Isabel's life plays out after college with marriage, becoming a mother and so on.  Through it all, you see the impact that the events of her last semester at school had on her for years after graduation.  

This book may not be for everyone, but I found it intriguing.  Sometimes I just like to read a story like you're seeing someone's life unfold and see where it goes to.  That was what this book felt like.  In addition, I confess it did sometimes feel like a train wreck where you just couldn't look away.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:  I was also gifted with an early audiobook copy.  The narration was perfect for this book and helped me to feel even more immersed in the storyline.  I felt that the voice for Isabel really lined up with what I expected. 4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC and ALC.  I voluntarily chose to read, listen to and review it and the opinions contained within are my own.
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In Washington DC, Monica Lewinsky sought immunity in exchange for testimony against her former lover. In New Hampshire, I disappeared behind the locked door of Connelly’s office.

Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt and Co. for an advanced galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Have you ever read a book that you identify with so deeply that it physically hurts you? Yeah, that was this book for me.

My Last Innocent Year follows Isabel Rosen, a 21-year old Jewish New Yorker who is making her way through her senior year of undergrad. At the beginning of the year, she has an unwanted sexual encounter with someone she considered to be a friend. Soon after, she has an affair with a married professor and must navigate the transitions of becoming an adult. Most of Isabel’s story is set in the 1990s, against the backdrop of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Trigger warnings for sexual assault, power dynamic relationships, self harm, and violence toward women. 

As someone who recently graduated college and had some not-so-smart romantic encounters during that time, this book really resonated with me. It’s about the decisions we make as we grow, how things we don’t ask for can affect how we see the world. Anyone who has ever been a young adult in a transitional period will see themselves in this novel. 

What I loved about this novel is that it is truly a snapshot of life. There’s not a fast-paced plot, because the plot IS Isabel. It is a bunch of moments that tie together to paint her story, and it is captivating. It still read very quickly–the prose was compelling and viscerally real. The impact of this novel comes from the honesty of the writing. Throughout the book, we see that this story is being written by an older Isabel who is looking at the story objectively. Her actions are not romanticized or commented upon; the reader makes their own decision about whether what she did was right or wrong. I think that added a unique and refreshing quality to the novel that resonated with me.

The entire story circles around Isabel, in a revolving cast of characters that float in and out of her life. Some are more fleshed out than others based on her level of friendship with them. For her roommates, we get a lot of information about them. For fleeting friends like Ginny or Whitney, we get glimpses of them as they pass in and out of her life. It felt honest and real in a way that made my heart ache.

What I also loved about this book is that it doesn’t romanticize the affair. It presents the story objectively: “This is what happened, this is how I felt at the time.” This is not a romance novel. It paints the story against the Monica Lewinsky scandal and reflects on the backlash women receive for being in a relationship where the other person held the power. This is a novel of desire and growth and confusion.

I was very delighted by how much I enjoyed My Last Innocent Year. This book gave me a sense of nostalgia that I shouldn’t already have at the age of 23. If you are a 20-something who is still finding their place in life, navigating life after college and complicated relationships, pick up this book. I definitely will.

My Last Innocent Year releases on February 14, 2023.
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My Last Innocent Year is a coming of age story about a young woman in her senior year of undergrad as an English major. The novel has hints of My Dark Vanessa, and is the story of a young woman who is discovering what she wants her life to look like. The book takes place during the same time period as the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski scandal, and the characters refer to what is happening in Washington DC several times, drawing parallels to their own lives.

The book is a realistic portrayal of a young woman's experiences in college and young adulthood. The questioning and seeking of the main character are relatable, and I appreciated that the sexual experiences are not explicitly described. This is not as tough a read as My Dark Vanessa, in part because the heroine is older, at least in my opinion. It would make for great book club discussions, as there are a number of ethical, moral dilemmas that will be polarizing for readers.

Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt and Company for the digital ARC of My Last Innocent Year. The opinions in this review are my own.
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This book is very white, liberal college.

That's about all I can say about it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read.
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An important book from the point of view of a woman dealing with a traumatic experience. So many woman keep secrets from college, especially if they feel it was their fault. This story will help women in the future come forth with their own stories
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While there many differences between myself and Isabel, I related so much more than I expected to her reactions to people and how she spoke about experiences. I truly could not put this book down!
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My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin is a stunning debut that tackles coming of age, sexual assault, an affair, and what it means to become an adult. Set in the 90s, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal is used as a touch point throughout. I found the plot to be rather surprising - as the relationships developed everything became more intertwined. I really enjoyed it but I do wish that the author had explored some of the main themes, like consent, more deeply. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt & Company for an ARC in exchange for my honest review - My Last Innocent Year is out 2/14/23.
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While this was not groundbreaking or new, I liked tis campus novel about a young girl on the cusp of life. She gets wrapped up in an affair with a married professor. There have been so many books about this same topic, but this didn't feel icky. I really liked how the author planted hints and seeds throughout to let us know that Isabel gets away from this small, elite school and on with her life. The ending was quiet and worked, though I didn't necessarily love it. But the author did transport me back to 1998 and I felt like I knew what life was like at a small, New Hampshire college.
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holy moly. easily a contender for one of my best reads of the year & I don’t care that it’s only January. I started and finished this today not because it’s a quick read, but because I truly couldn’t walk away from it. 

Thank you @henryholtbooks for the ARC. 

Just a beautiful coming of age story about a young woman in her senior year of college - the line between adolescence and adulthood behind everything. It explores sexual identities, friendships, parental relationships and grief in an absolutely poignant way. 

Pub date - February 14, 2023 (pick this up as a Valentine’s Day present to yourself 😉)

“It’s 1998 and Isabel Rosen, the only daughter of a Lower East Side appetizing store owner, has one semester left at Wilder College, a prestigious school in New Hampshire. Desperate to shed her working-class roots and still mourning the death of her mother four years earlier, Isabel has always felt like an outsider at Wilder but now, in her final semester, she believes she has found her place—until a nonconsensual sexual encounter with one of the only other Jewish students on campus leaves her reeling.

Enter R. H. Connelly, a once-famous poet and Isabel’s writing professor, a man with secrets of his own. Connelly makes Isabel feel seen, beautiful, talented: the woman she longs to become. His belief in her ignites a belief in herself, and the two begin an affair that shakes the foundation of who Isabel thinks she is, for better and worse. As the lives of the adults around her slowly come apart, Isabel discovers that the line between youth and adulthood is less defined than she thought.”
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Early in this novel, the stories of our protagonist are dismissed as “girls with feelings.” This serves not only as a description of the book itself, but, not coincidently, my favorite type of story to read. 

The feelings of the girl in My Last Innocent Year revolve around consent, finding her own voice, and making the kind of reckless choices you can only make before you’re fully formed. It’s messy and complicated and never-ending shades of gray, but that’s what makes it feel so true. 

Oh, you want to know what it's actually about? Isabel Rosen is a senior at a fancy ivy league college her father can’t afford, she has a non-consensual encounter with someone she considers a friend, which sends her one spiral into an affair with her professor, who also happens to be her greatest champion as she stretches her talents as a writer. As I said, complicated, messy and beautiful. 

Read if you like: ivy league drama, thinking about the complexities of the #MeToo movement, whitefish salad, subplots that are more dramatic than the actual plot
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This was an incredible debut Daisy Alpert Florin. If I wasn’t a mother of two toddlers, I would have read this in one sitting. Isabel, the protagonist, is very relatable: a young English major trying to navigate relationships and not take up too much space. This book stands out among affair novels because she was much stronger than most women in those books, even as young as she was. There was even a little bit of mystery involved. I thought the ending was perfect and real. There’s not a happy ending, per se, but neither is real life. I would recommend to anyone who loves Writers and Lovers. Thanks to Henry Holt and Co, Daisy Alpert Florin, and Netgalley for the ARC!
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I hate to say it, but I think this book was written simply as a result of the rising popularity of the "dark academia sad girl" trope in books/media, and that's about as far as it goes. The plot was a bit of a mess, and the book isn't really marketed well. It deals with really serious topics that aren't even hinted at in the synopsis, and that bothers me a lot. They aren't even spoilers. 

TWs for conversations on consent, SA, rape, etc. 

Didn't enjoy this one.
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A voicey campus novel  centering on messy questions of consent set against a late 90s backdrop? This novel was  always going to be catnip for me -- MY LAST INNOCENT YEAR slots neatly into the growing canon of #MeToo novels and offers a measured  meditation on the extent to which we  have the agency to  make our own choices and the degree of ownership we must take of the fallout of those choices. The narrator's disembodied 'adult' voice is used to great effect, and Florin captures a very particular sort of academic man with pitch perfect detail. My primary quibble with the novel is a small one -- I struggled with what to make of Zev's character (or, more particularly, the choice to make him an Israeli soldier). His overall purpose in the novel was clear, but I wasn't quite sure what Alpert Florin was trying to say re: Israel / Jewish identity (or if she was making a point on race, as Zev is  the only brown character and also the only character publicly lambasted for his actions...).  Regardless, I'll keep an eye out for what Alpert Florin does next!
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Isabel is one semester away from graduating Wilder College in 1998 when she has a nonconsensual sexual encounter with someone she considered a friend. As the repercussions from that encounter feel as if they spiral out of her control, she meets someone else: a temporary professor for her writing course. And he makes Isabel feel seen and understood in ways that she can barely understand. An affair begins between them, and Isabel finds herself struggling to discern who she is as a person, a writer, and a woman.

This work was more of a character study of Isabel than a typical novel. There wasn’t much plot (was there any plot?) and it was written more as a stream of consciousness or anecdotal account of one person’s self-discovery. I enjoyed how the author portrayed Isabel, and felt that the over-analyzation of small things, self-doubt, and passivity were well written for a protagonist this age. I did feel that Isabel’s character was lacking some depth though, especially in relation to the lack of reflection or analyzation surrounding the traumatic events that happened to her. 

I wanted more from this work overall. For a story about mental health and nonconsensual and consensual but inappropriate sexual relationships, there was no real emotional impact or gut-wrenching anything. It all just came across as a little bland and detached. I did enjoy the ending though, and think it wrapped up this story neatly in a bittersweet way. 

While I did enjoy this read, it won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re a reader that prefers a plot. My thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for allowing me to read this work, which will be published on February 14th, 2023. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Wow. This one was a real creeper for me. I started out not feeling too strongly one way or another. But then by 25% in, it really had a hold on me.

My Last Innocent Year follows Isabel Rosen's final year at a distinguished college in New Hampshire in 1998. Starting off with a non-consensual sexual incident with a peer and moving on to a noxious affair with a married professor, Isabel narrates with a beautiful stream of conscious flow to examine interwoven themes of power, class, gender, and religion. We see how a woman struggles to define herself after the lose of her mother, her strained role with her father, and a mismatch group of friends with their own struggles. 

I really enjoyed this one.. in whatever way someone can enjoy a book that makes them feel empty and self reflective. I think my own personal experiences played a role in my connection to this book but there is no denying the author's ability to write. There were many times I highlighted quotes, not because of their critical role in the plot, but because of how raw and beautiful it was. I started to think the book was going downhill towards the end in what felt like a mad dash to the finish. However, once I had finished, it felt very well done. You needed to see that aspect of her life from that time in order to gain the full perspective. I would definitely recommend this one!

Thanks, as always, to NetGalley, Henry Holt & Co, and Daisy Alpert Florin for the advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review! <3
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While completing her final year of college, and unsure about her plans for the future, Isabel begins an affair with her married professor. 
Since I hardly ever read synopses, I started this with no clue what to expect. Once I saw where it was going, my initial reaction was, Ugh. Another story about a manipulative, predatory teacher taking advantage of his position. While there definitely was some of that, I appreciated that there was more to the story and to the protagonist than her fling with a creeper, like Isabel’s complicated relationship with her father, and the anxiety and uncertainty that goes along with leaving behind the safety of youth. 
Thanks to #netgalley and #henryholtandco for this #arc of #mylastinnocentyear in exchange for an honest review.
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one of my most anticipated books of 2023! and i found it a bit underwhelming.

the plot was slow-going and the writing felt a bit weak. the characters, the narrative, and the themes were certainly well done and the author knew where to go about these, it just wasn't as engaging as i had initially hoped.
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Isabel Rosen is a senior at the small, prestigious Wilder College—the type of school where wealth is assumed and everyone knows everyone. Isabel has always been a bit of an outsider at Wilder—she’s one of the only Jewish students on campus, she isn’t wealthy, and her mother recently died. In spite of feeling like she’s different, Isabel has found a place for herself in the inclusive bubble of Wilder, and though graduation approaches, she has no plan for her future outside of it. But senior year is full of the unexpected. A sexual encounter that falls in the grey area between what Isabel understands to be consensual and nonconsensual leaves her questioning herself and her decisions. The married professors in charge of the English department are divorcing in a public spectacle that affects everyone caught in the destruction. And a new writing professor suddenly appears on the scene and makes Isabel feel seen, capable, and intelligent in all the ways she aspires to be. The affair she begins with him is the tipping point between her youth and adulthood, and it will shape the adult she becomes for better and worse. 

The book is set in the late 1990s, and as the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal plays out publicly, Isabel grapples with her own understanding of power, consent and its complexities, reputation, and shame. The narration we’re given is from the older Isabel looking back, and she sprinkles details of what will come in her adult life alongside the main narrative. We see how her opinions changed over time, her perspective in hindsight, and her perspective as the events play out. 

What I assumed would be a straightforward story like many I’ve read before about assault, an affair, and the aftermath of both is actually a far more nuanced and introspective story of gray areas, questions, difficult answers, and sometimes no answers at all. Because of this, it felt far more real. Isabel is a flawed character who makes a lot of mistakes that she doesn’t always learn from. We have no hero or villain to side with here. Instead we have a character who often doesn’t know what her opinion is and who gradually finds her own voice. This is evident through all components of Isabel’s life, and I especially liked seeing how her relationship with her father changed throughout the novel. 

I loved this book, and I think it’s an important one. I would recommend this to anyone who loves campus stories, coming-of-age novels, introspection, reflections on privilege and youth, and taking a closer look at the complexities of power and consent and the ways that societies definitions of both have changed over time. 

Thank you to Henry Holt and Company and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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While not quite riveting, My Last Innocent Year is nonetheless the portrait of a young woman on the brink of change grappling with heavy issues of power and identity. The story follows Isabel Rosen, a Jewish college student at a small New England liberal arts program in 1998, who begins an ill-advised affair with an older professor. This A plot follows an inevitably familiar arc of secrets and distrust, but to me felt secondary to many of the other details of Isabel's life. I was much more drawn in by her Lower East side upbringing in an appetizing shop, her fraught and tender relationships with her two roommates, and the reverberating emotional impact of a traumatizing nonconseunal sexual encounter that happens early on in the story and sparks powerful questions about consent and justice. Wrapped up in all of this is a neat little love letter to the college experience, in all of its joy and ugliness, and the unexpected endurance of brief moments in our lives. The narrator of the story is a much older Isabel looking back and reflecting on this snapshot of her youth, and she occasionally veers off to reference the present state of certain people or to make connections to her adult life. I enjoyed this narrative framing, which added a note of wistfulness and chagrin to the narrative, an inexorable yearning for long lost people and places and above all her former self.
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