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Such a Good Girl

Review

Such a Good Girl

Riley Stone is "just about perfect. Ask anyone." So begins SUCH A GOOD GIRL, an entrancing blend of Shakespeare's heightened emotions, Brontë's dreary, tormented romances, and any high schooler's giggly antics and love of junk food.

As high school graduation creeps ever nearer, however, the impeccable Riley Stone grows bored with her bland, blameless existence. Cue the red Solo cups sloshing with cheap alcohol and a few fumbling rounds of beer pong.

Then ready yourselves for one whirlwind of a plot twist. Though disillusioned by the bleary amusement of her first high school party, this "good girl" doesn't creep back to her blameless existence with a throbbing hangover and renewed love for the straight and narrow.

She plunges into a crazed romance with her French teacher.

"Hungering for the searing, melancholic romance of JANE EYRE? Amanda K. Morgan's SUCH A GOOD GIRL promises enough heartbreaking rogues and workplace impropriety to make a Brontë sister proud."

Don't let the novel's 17-year-old protagonist or (dubious) YA-designation fool you— under the veneer of sumptuous imagery lurks a mesmerizing, fiercely passionate core. (Seriously, Morgan's sophomore novel nears PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-level stormy romance.) By pairing teen silliness with the emotional grandeur of classic lit, SUCH A GOOD GIRL becomes at once shocking and familiar, imminently relatable and hauntingly surreal. Plus, Morgan's knowledge of her protagonist's psyche soaks through every word of narration.

But even though SUCH A GOOD GIRL gives its protagonist's every moral transgression a psychological basis, Morgan never provides a similar— or, really, any—  glimpse into Mr. Belrose's mind. But most high school teachers don't spend their careers ensnaring the head cheerleader in a romantic chokehold (thank you, universe!); so when the esteemed Alex Belrose does, readers will demand a reason why.

Of course, any novel declaring its protagonist "just about perfect" will always teeter on the edge Mary Sue-dom. Although her shortcomings abound as the novel progresses, the eponymous "good girl" might trigger more eye rolls than admiration during the book's opening chapters. From time to time, the pacing does seem to stagnate. And sure, the conclusion's thrilling ambiguity might, well, thrill, but all that uncertainty can also deny readers any feeling of closure.

Then again, I'd endure a lot more than stagnation and uncertainty for Morgan's gems of figurative language and imagery. (How could you not swoon over the sentence "My heart feels like paper that has been lit on fire and is blackening and curling up from the edges"?)

Hungering for the searing, melancholic romance of JANE EYRE? Amanda K. Morgan's SUCH A GOOD GIRL promises enough heartbreaking rogues and workplace impropriety to make a Brontë sister proud.

Reviewed by Alison Stewart on August 22, 2017

Such a Good Girl
by Amanda K. Morgan