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An incisive, deeply resonant debut novel about a nonconsensual 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 1998 and Isabel Rosen, the only daughter of a Lower East Side appetizing store owner, has one semester left at Wilder College, a prestigious school in New Hampshire. Desperate to shed her working-class roots and still mourning the death of her mother four years earlier, Isabel has always felt like an outsider at Wilder but now, in her final semester, she believes she has found her place—until a nonconsensual sexual encounter with one of the only other Jewish students on campus leaves her reeling.
Enter R. H. Connelly, a once-famous poet and Isabel's 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, and the two begin an affair that shakes the foundation of who Isabel thinks she is, for better and worse. As the lives of the adults around her slowly come apart, Isabel discovers that the line between youth and adulthood is less defined than she thought.
A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, Daisy Alpert Florin's My Last Innocent Year is a timely and wise portrait of a young woman learning to trust her voice and move toward independence while recognizing the beauty and grit of where she came from.