My Last Innocent Year: A Novel (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
Daisy Alpert Florin attended Dartmouth College and received graduate degrees from Columbia University and Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She is a recipient of the 2016 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College and was a 2019–20 fellow in the BookEnds novel revision fellowship, where she worked with founding director Susan Scarf Merrell. A native New Yorker, Florin lives in Connecticut with her family. My Last Innocent Year is her first novel.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Zibby Owens and LitHub
Named a Most Anticipated Debut Book of 2023 by Debutiful
Named a Must-Read Book of Winter by Entertainment Weekly and Town & Country
“A college senior reckons with the aftermath of what might have been sexual assault by a fellow student — and tumbles into a love affair with her married professor — against the backdrop of Clinton-Lewinsky-era America in Florin's resonant, coolly composed debut.”
“A deeply timely and relevant campus novel.”
—Town & Country
“What was it like to be graduating college and stepping out into the real world when the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke? This is a riveting coming-of-age novel about a young woman in that exact situation. Many people have captured what it’s like on a college campus, but this has entered the pantheon of campus novels. Florin’s book is a frontrunner for novel of the year.”
“Readers will be rapt and pierced by a young woman's uphill battle, even in all her brilliance, to believe that she can be the ultimate witness to her own life.”
“A brilliantly crafted campus novel for the generation before #MeToo...Florin’s prose is gorgeous and enthralling, and her imagistic portrayal of New England campus life—from divey college town bars to Winter Carnival to English department parties to skinny-dipping in the river—is pitch-perfect. She also succeeds where many stories of dubious sexual consent fail: She avoids heavy-handed moralizing in favor of ambiguity, however uncomfortable...Florin’s debut is not to be missed.”
“Immersive...Florin does great work exploring the era's murky sexual politics.”
“My Last Innocent Year possesses an urgent timeliness—in its examination of gender, power, and class on a college campus—but Daisy Alpert Florin’s remarkable debut is, at heart, an intimate, intricately constructed coming of age tale to rival the greats of the genre, from The Great Gatsby to Catcher in the Rye. Remarkable, unputdownable, brilliant.”
—Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
"Gripping, nuanced, and thought-provoking, My Last Innocent Year is an intimate portrait of a woman on the cusp of adulthood grappling with the thorniest of issues: agency and consent, ambition and jealousy, loyalty and betrayal. This beautifully written novel reverberated in my bones.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
“Propulsive, evocative, and very hot. Every page of My Last Innocent Year bursts with insight about a young woman, shaped by time and circumstance, who is learning to tell the truth.”
—Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir
“Florin is a magician. The salaciousness, the melodrama, and moral outrage one expects in a campus novel about a teacher/student romance are stunningly absent, and in their place Florin offers you nothing but her intoxicating clear sightedness, the kind of simplicity and weight and wisdom you very rarely see in a debut novel. Her characters feel so real it is almost indecent. Monica Lewinsky, but painted by Vermeer. The recognizable stereotypes of youth and lust so honestly accounted, it is like being offered your own youth captured in glass, not as you remember it, but as it was. Astonishing.”
—Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
“My Last Innocent Year is one of the best novels about life on a college campus I've ever read, and Isabel Rosen is a distinctive, necessary addition to the Jewish canon; Daisy Florin excavates her characters' journey through the end of innocence with great honesty, insight, and a singular voice.”
—Karen E. Bender, author of the National Book Award Finalist Refund
“My Last Innocent Year is a tightrope walk of a debut novel about womanhood, power, and privilege. Quietly propulsive, this is a book that asks us to reexamine the relationship between coercion and consent, a subtly crafted character study of an artist in the making—I could not put it down.”
—Ellie Eaton, author of The Divines
“An incisive, honest, and compulsively readable coming-of-age story, My Last Innocent Year offers a refreshingly nuanced perspective on contemporary conversations about consent, the power dynamics of sexual relationships and friendships, and the challenges women encounter in claiming their place as artists.”
—Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party
“My Last Innocent Year hits a sweet spot: great storytelling, wonderful characters, and a genuinely complex set of ethical dilemmas that cannot be reduced to simple right and wrong.”
—Susan Scarf Merrell, author of Shirley
“I tore through this sparkling and gritty coming-of-age novel, nodding the whole time. Yes, desire is messy. Sexuality can blur into violence. All the difficult, gray truths don't resolve into black-and-white clarity just because we wish they would. Yes, yes, yes. Daisy Florin is an astonishing writer and My Last Innocent Year is a remarkable book.”
—Catherine Newman, author of We All Want Impossible Things
“Daisy Florin’s debut is a beautifully written, assured exploration of a young woman’s conflicting desires for love and sex, for success and recognition, for belonging and independence, and the destabilizing, heady affair that will shape her life for decades to come. Florin has managed to give us a story that is fresh, vital, and surprising, while at the same time will have readers nodding in recognition as Isabel Rosen navigates ambition, lust, grief, and what it means to find your voice in a world that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you.”
—Caitlin Mullen, author of Please See Us