My Last Innocent Year: A Novel


Midway through her senior year of college, Isabel finds herself enmeshed in a sexual encounter that she feels, in hindsight, was not entirely consensual. Her activist roommate publicly humiliates the boy involved, and Isabel finds herself shaken as rumors abound. Better company is her new creative writing professor, Connelly, who is married but makes no secret of his interest in Isabel. Their affair is a revelation: Isabel sees it as an unlocking of her very self. But as her final semester gallops forward, she finds that even a man as beautiful as Connelly is no more than a very flawed human. As her preconceptions of power, sex, knowledge, marriage, and adulthood tumble around her, Isabel must finally figure out who she is and how to move into a life of her own.

This novel might initially seem like just another coming of age, just another story about a young girl fallen under the sway of an older, more powerful man. But the clarity of this narration—the razor-sharp hindsight, the searing self-examination—creates a kind of portal into the mind of a girl on the cusp of change. Readers of a certain age will recognize the liminal space Isabel inhabits, the time between childhood and young adulthood, her growing recognition that she has to trust herself and only herself. Only an innocent child can rely on anyone else. This wonderful novel is a must-read.

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