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The Divines by Ellie Eaton (debut)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Length: 320 pages
From the Publisher
“The girls of St John the Divine, an elite English boarding school, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys, and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cuttingly humorous in the way that only teenage girls can be. For Josephine, now in her thirties, the years at St John were a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shuttered its doors in disgrace…”
Coming-of-age stories have long been one of my favorite genres, but in 2020 few made it to my reading list. That’s changing big time in 2021, starting with The Divines by debut author Ellie Eaton. Her book will make you happy you’re no longer a teenager, as it spotlights the girls of an elite (and elitist) English boarding school. These girls sport the confidence of the rich and powerful. They know their place in the world and believe it to be far above almost everyone else including their teachers and the people of the town where their school resides. They’re totally loyal and devoted to each other, until they’re not. At that point, vicious becomes the only word to describe them.
A dual timeline story, The Divines follows Joe/Sephine as a popular, but insecure student at the school as it faces its decline. Twenty years later, she’s a mother with a young daughter of her own. Happily married and leading a productive life, Sephine remains haunted by her teenage self: the things she did, the people she hurt, the attitudes she held. The past begins to seep deeper and deeper into her life, her guilt causing fractures along the way. Even as I was horrified by choices Sephine made in her youth, I found it hard not to sympathizes with her teenage angst and her years of regret. I look forward to reading more coming-of-age novels in 2021 after a great start with The Divines. Grade: B+
“I could have asked Gerry what was the matter, offered her some words of comfort or advice; that would have been the charitable thing to do, I knew. But I was a teenager, self-obsessed, too caught up in my own narrative to care about anyone but myself.”
If you liked this book you might also enjoy:
- Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria – The brave, heartbreaking story of young Juliet’s rapid fall into mental illness and her journey toward finding a way to carry on without completely losing herself. (my review)
- The Guineveres by Sarah Domet – Four young teenage girls find they’ve each been delivered to the Sisters of Extreme Adoration convent, and want nothing more than to find a way to leave. (my review)
Note: I received a copy of this book from William Morrow (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.