I received an E-read ARC of this book from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Wednesday Books
To Be Published: October 3rd, 2017
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Coming of Age
My Rating: 4.75 Stars
Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won’t admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he’ll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn’t show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.
Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora’s dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.
This book was something else. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the blurb and the cover intrigued me as I clicked through the net gallery listings. When I saw the “told in series of letters” bit, I knew it was something that I had to try to check out.
The book is about a young woman, Flora, finding herself. She does it in a very weird way, but as the story unfolds you (as the reader) can see the change in her.
As I read the first part of the book, I read Flora’s voice with that obviously fake British accent, kind of like Madonna does sometimes. Flora is an upper east side Manhattan private school obsessed with fashion, but the fashion of the late 50’s early 60’s– very Jackie Kennedy. Her crush/ mild obsession with her history tutor/photographer Elijah reads exactly like something like that would read in my high school diary. I mean, it was just so relatable. Would I have applied to go to a somewhat ridiculous artsy private school in the middle of the woods to be close to a guy? No, but for Flora, that choice felt like something that could happen.
There are parts of this book that feel a lot fantastical, but then, it’s written in journal entries and emails by people who over exaggerate and love drama. So maybe the narrative isn’t exactly what happened, but that’s how Flora wants to tell them. Once the slightly ridiculous stuff starts to happen, as a reader, I was so used to how Flora spoke and saw things that it wasn’t that big of a deal.
I liked the Miss Tulip subplot. I think it balanced Flora’s life before Quare and after Quare. It’s a great reflection of the end of the book to the start of the book.
The other characters are also fun to follow. Especially as Flora begins to see them outside the view she comes to Quare with. There is a “no shell speak” policy at Quare, which means students can’t talk about how people look. Flora enters the school as someone who definitely is very into the shell and not much about what’s inside, so as she grows, reading how she sees people is interesting. It’s a first impression versus actually talking to people kind of thing.
I had some issues with formatting. Part of it is personal preference, and part of it was probably that I wasn’t used to how things look in an e-reader, and truth be told I read about 75% of this book on my phone which probably messed up the formatting a little bit. I feel like it a physical copy of the book the spacing will be different. Some of the journal entries seem to butt up against each other when I would think they’d be on a different page. But, again, I did read most of this book on an iPhone, so the formatting isn’t going to be perfect.
Overall, I loved this book. If you like coming of age/self-discovery stories, this is a book to look out for in the fall. Flora’s character is a very interesting one, and I found the format of this book different and interesting. There is also a bit that could very much read a slight to Lena Dunham, which I’m all about not giving praise to Lena Dunham.
I read a lot of books where the main character is a shy introverted outcast girl. Because those are the books that are being written and there is nothing wrong with those characters of books, Flora, however, isn’t that kind of girl. She’s shallow and thinks very highly of herself. I wouldn’t call her a mean girl exactly, but she’s definitely the kind of person that would look down her nose at a middle-class person. However, she wasn’t depicted as annoying, I mean, she a little annoying in the beginning, but when you start to imagine people complexly, they change a little.
This book was great, and I appreciate the opportunity to read and review it from Netgallery. I hope that Jenny Fran Davis has more books in the works because she’s an author to look out for in the future.
Until next time Internet,