Book Review

All Girls – Emily Layden

Today’s review is for coming-of-age novel, All Girls by Emily Layden. Many thanks to Emily and to John Murray Press for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.


A keenly perceptive coming-of-age novel, All Girls captures one year 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.

But as the months unfold, and the school’s efforts to control the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary girls are forced to discover their voices, and their power. A tender and unflinching portrait of modern adolescence told through the shifting perspectives of an unforgettable cast of 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.


Amazon UK

Amazon US



There is something about books set in prestigious boarding schools that I just find irresistible, so I was so happy when I was approved to receive a copy of All Girls. Unlike most boarding school books I have read, which are focused on back-stabbing, bitchiness and bullying, All Girls deals with a number of different issues. The girls of The Atwater School are outwardly nice, well-rounded girls, but as each section of the book focuses on the experiences of a very different girl over the course of one academic year, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to these girls than meets the eye.

Covering issues including sexual assault, unhealthy relationships, mental health issues, sexuality, affirmative consent, and gender disparity, All Girls is a book that, for me, the title says everything – all girls are struggling with something, and all girls should read this book. Yes, the subjects are challenging, and not always easy to read, but Emily Layden handles each of them with sensitivity and nothing is included simply for the shock factor to keep the reader engaged.

With such a range of characters telling their stories, I think everyone who reads this book will find someone to relate to. Although I am significantly older than the target demographic for this book, I could still see elements of myself in more than one character and found myself totally engaged with each of their stories. What I found particularly interesting was, with the frequent changes of point of view, you saw each character through their own eyes and through the eyes of the other narrators, and it was fascinating just how different people’s opinions of themselves and others was.

All Girls is an engaging read that makes you challenge things that perhaps you have always just accepted and highlights just how many struggles teenage girls are facing.

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