cover image My Last Innocent Year

My Last Innocent Year

Daisy Alpert Florin. Holt, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-85703-3

Florin debuts with an immersive if overly polished campus novel involving a creative writing student’s affair with her professor. Isabel Rosen, a New Yorker, enrolls at Wilder College in New Hampshire at the behest of her working-class father in the late 1990s. Shortly before she leaves for college, her mother dies from cancer. Grief-stricken during her freshman year, she’s preoccupied by memories of her mother. By Isabel’s senior year, her writing talent is recognized by R.H. Connelly, a married and formerly successful poet who is subbing for famous author Joanna Maxwell, who normally runs the senior workshop but is on leave due to an impending divorce from her professor husband, Tom, which caused a bit of a scandal. Against this backdrop, which also includes the Clinton-Lewinsky episode, Isabel and Connelly have an affair. Connelly helps Isabel grow creatively, though she has qualms about their relationship and suspects Connelly has done this before. Florin does great work exploring the era’s murky sexual politics, but the prose is burnished to the point of feeling stilted, and a post-college section feels a bit rushed. While sterile, this throwback has its moments. (Feb.)

Correction: The author's last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this review.