All Girls: A Novel (Paperback)
"The pages turn fast and the girls are complex, compelling and written with incredible tenderness. Layden excels at rendering the everyday details of boarding school life." ––New York Times
"Sharp, engrossing." ––Town & Country
A keenly perceptive coming of age novel for fans of Sally Rooney, Curtis Sittenfeld, and J. Courtney Sullivan, All Girls follows nine young women as they navigate their ambitions and fears at a prestigious New England prep school, all pitched 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, Emily Layden's 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.
You grow to love a place...and then you grow up.
About the Author
EMILY LAYDEN is a graduate of Stanford University, and has taught at several girls' schools nationwide. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner's World. All Girls is her first novel.
Praise for All Girls:
One of "The 28 Must-Read Books of Winter 2021"—Town & Country
One of "The Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2021"—Parade
One of the "Best Books to Read in 2021"—Good Housekeeping
"The pages turn fast and the girls are complex, compelling and written with incredible tenderness. Layden excels at rendering the everyday details of boarding school life."
—New York Times
"An insightful prep school drama"
"If Gossip Girl meets Curtis Sittenfield sounds like your jam then All Girls is extremely your jam. [E]ngrossing.”—E!Online
"An assured and tender debut novel. Layden explores complex bonds between students and the slow-turning gears of a revered but old-fashioned institution."
—New York Times Book Review, Staff Pick
"Incisive, astute...Layden succeeds at bringing the effects of an institutional cover-up into sharp relief. "
“Readers will find themselves thinking about the vividly and compassionately rendered characters long after their chapters end, and considering decisions they would make in the same situations. Give it to grown-up fans of Gossip Girl and readers of Curtis Sittenfeld and Emma Straub.”
"Diving into the unprocessed underworld of adolescence, Layden creates space for a conversation about feminism and the unsung difficulties of surviving in a male-dominated world. Intelligent, evocative, and empathetic."
"An important take on sexuality and #MeToo from the perspective of the young."
“A striking debut.”
"Call it a 21st-century Prep or a Litchfield County Gossip Girl, but don't miss what's sure to become a touchstone among the beloved niche of boarding-school novels."
—Town & Country
"What’s it like to attend a promising, prestigious New England prep school engulfed in a scandal it wants silenced? In All Girls, a diverse cast of nine young women offer shifting perspectives, discover their voices and navigate friendships and fears in the middle of crisis."
"A dark and exhilarating debut, Emily Layden's All Girls is sure to be one of 2021's most talked-about novels."
"A promising debut...this sensitive and innovative coming-of-age novel offers an insightful snapshot of a long-overdue institutional reckoning and the ripple effect it has on its students."
"With extraordinary insight and craft, All Girls explores what happens when Atwater, an all-girls boarding school, is rocked by allegations of sexual assault. All Girls kept me turning pages not only to uncover its central mystery but to discover something deeper: the surprises and secrets of this riveting cast of characters, in all of their full and complex humanity."
—Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists
"All Girls is an exciting, innovative debut from a fresh and assured new voice. Emily Layden renders the fictional Atwater School in nuanced, honest, and rich depth, guiding its young characters with a tender and knowing hand. This is a sincere, poignant, and moving story of a group of teenage girls coming to terms with the world they've inherited.”
—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six
“Emily Layden’s debut, crafted with great care and empathy, is a shimmering, intelligent portrait of young women on the cusp of adulthood, navigating the complex landscape of feminine power and vulnerability.”
—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of A Good Neighborhood
“An engrossing novel from start to finish, with characters who feel as real as your best friends and a message that’s all too relevant in a world where the boundaries defining consent remain dangerously blurred. I devoured it."
—Carola Lovering, author of Tell Me Lies
“Sexual awakening and institutional reckoning intertwine in this rich, kaleidoscopic debut. Layden wholly inhabits a dazzling cast of characters and renders The Atwater School as alive, infuriating, and unforgettable as its inhabitants.”
—Elizabeth Ames, author of The Other’s Gold