I was recommended Daisy Alpert Florin’s debut – My Innocent Year – by Joanna Rakoff, an author who I like to think of as my literary kindred spirit. Joanna took part in my Desert Island Books series a little over a year ago, and I’ve loved every single book she’s recommended thus far.
And so, when Joanna shared news of the soon-to-be-released My Innocent Year on her Instagram, I soon after contacted the publisher to ask for a proof. It was sent to my apartment in Bondi while I was back visiting family in the UK, and the day I returned I began reading it, knowing from the very first page that was exactly the sort of book I would love.
My Last Innocent Year Book Review
A thought-provoking and beautifully written coming-of-age campus novel, in My Innocent Year we meet Isabel Romen, a senior at Wilder College, who has a disconcerting sexual encounter with a fellow-classmate she once considered a friend. She then goes onto begin an affair with her enigmatic and married English professor, and we see Isabel as she attempts to navigate the fine line between girlhood and womanhood while her life slowly simmers with a sense of foreboding.
Beautifully written and utterly captivating, Florin does a wonderful job of capturing what it is to be a girl on the brink of womanhood, finding her feet in an adult world. A tale that explores themes of grief, loss, and consent, the narrative is beautifully ribboned with smouldering tension throughout.
A quiet, contemplative book that offers readers an intimate and perfectly depicted portrayal of one woman’s relationship with the many shades of consent, My Innocent Year is the crème de la crème of campus novels; and a compulsively readable coming-of-age that is both evocative and deeply nuanced.
My Last Innocent Year Summary
An incisive, deeply resonant debut novel about a non-consensual sexual encounter that propels one woman’s final semester at an elite New England college into controversy and chaos—and into an ill-advised affair with a married professor
It’s the winter of 1998 and Isabel Rosen has one semester left at Wilder College, a prestigious school in New Hampshire with a wealthy, elite student body and the sort of picturesque buildings college brochures were invented to capture. The only daughter of a Lower East Side appetizing store owner, Isabel has always felt out of place at Wilder, and the death of her mother shortly before she arrived on campus left her feeling unmoored in a way that’s proven hard to shake. Now, right as she’s coming to believe she’s finally found her place, the fallout from a non-consensual sexual encounter with one of the only other Jewish students on campus leaves Isabel reeling.
Enter R.H. Connelly: a once-famous poet and Isabel’s married 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. The two begin an affair that shakes the foundation of who Isabel thinks she is, for better and worse.
Set against the backdrop of the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal, My Last Innocent Year is a coming-of-age story about a young woman on the brink of sexual and artistic awakening, navigating her way toward independence while recognizing the power, beauty and grit of where she came from. Timely and wise, it reckons with the complexities of consent, what it means to be an adult, and whether or not we can ever outrun our bad decisions.
I loved Daisy’s letter to librarians, in which she wrote about not only libraries, but also the role they play in My Last Innocent Year.
Daisy Alpert Florin Author Bio
Daisy Alpert Florin attended Dartmouth College and received graduate degrees from Columbia University and Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She is a recipient of the 2016 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College and was a 2019–20 fellow in the BookEnds novel revision fellowship, where she worked with founding director Susan Scarf Merrell. A native New Yorker, Daisy lives in Connecticut with her family.
Love this post? Click here to subscribe.