By: Miriam Parker

Published: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Dutton


Miriam Parker’s sophomore novel is set at a boarding school in Napa Valley. I know very little about boarding schools but it did remind me of college life, just with younger girls. Gillian has been a publicist to the stars but when a scandal forces her to leave her profession behind for good, she takes an opportunity to return to her alma mater and hide from the social media haters.

Gillian becomes a dorm mother at the boarding school she graduated from. She wasn’t like most of the girls who attended there. She had a single mom and was a scholarship student. But, she appreciated all the opportunities given to her while she was a student even though there was that one legendary prank during her senior year.

There is a lot of predictability in this story and very little plot, but the characters are mostly enjoyable. Gillian quickly becomes respected by the girls in her dorm and I found that a bit easy. As someone who works with high school students and the mother of a senior, I feel like kids are a bit warier. I was surprised that a prestigious school didn’t have more checks in place and a communication team to handle their own scandal that comes to light. Thankfully, Gillian is there to save the day….again, predictability.

“Maybe not all dreams are supposed to come true.”

“Maybe Lila was right: maybe this love was outdated, was based more on a romanticized version of the past than of the present.”

The characters were well-developed and the beauty of the campus was easy to imagine. Gillian relives some of her own high school dreams while being back on campus and part of me wishes she hadn’t. I felt like it wasn’t the right move for the character and made me cringe a few times. Even though I disagreed with some of the storylines, this was the right book at the right time for me. The lighter plot and enjoyable characters kept me reading and reliving my own high school and college days.

Miriam Parker has worked in book publishing for more than twenty years and is currently the VP, associate publisher of Ecco. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington and a BA in English from Columbia University. Her short stories have been published in The Florida Review and Fourteen Hills. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her daughter, and her spaniel, Leopold Bloom

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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