book review · books · secrets

His Favorites by Kate Walbert {ARC Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

From the highly acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award finalist and author of A Short History of Women, a searing and timely novel about a teenaged girl, a charismatic teacher, and a dark, open secret.

They were on a lark, three teenaged girls speeding across the greens on a “borrowed” golf cart, at night, drunk. The cart crashes and one of the girls lands violently in the rough, killed instantly. The driver, Jo, flees the hometown that has turned against her and enrolls at a prestigious boarding school. Her past weighs on her. She is responsible for the death of her best friend. She has tipped her parents’ rocky marriage into demise. She is ready to begin again, far away from the accident.

Taut, propulsive and devastating, His Favorites reveals the interior life of a young woman determined to navigate the treachery in a new world. Told from her perspective many years later, the story coolly describes a series of shattering events and the system that failed to protect her. Walbert, who brilliantly explored a century of women’s struggles for rights and recognition in her award-winning A Short History of Women, limns the all-too-common violations of vulnerability and aspiration in the lives of young women in this suspenseful short novel.


I will start by saying do not let the size of this novel throw you off. To be such a short book, it packed a punch with the story and how eloquently it was told. I have not read anything by Kate Walbert before but I do believe that I will check out her other work. The story that Jo is telling is captivating and also heartbreaking. Not only does she have to deal with the guilt of causing her best friend’s death, she deals with the scorn from the town, the breakup of her parents, her being sent off to boarding school, and the not so subtle inappropriate treatment from a teacher. Early on, you see that Jo has almost been dealt the short-end of the stick. After the accident, she has to deal with the consequences just about on her own. Her parent’s solution is to send her away all while they decide to split. As if that was good timing. Once arriving to her new school, Jo thinks that things are going to be better but in fact they get a bit worse.

How does society need to protect teen girls? Why is it that one mistake sets the tone for everything else that a girl may go thru? These are questions that I had while reading this novel. While I do believe in having to have consequences for actions, what I don’t believe is that a person should be mistreated in a situation that has nothing to do with what happened in their past. After dealing with an incident with her teacher, Jo decides to seek help but is basically told that because of her past, no one would believe her. At the end of the novel I felt that Jo was bitter but I looked at it from a different perspective. She isn’t bitter, she is more matter of fact about what she has gone thru and just wants to see some justice for it and to possibly prevent it from happening to others.

The way that Kate has structured the story makes for an easy, short read but it will still make you think. She shows the vulnerability of her character on the pages in such a way that you can not ignore it.

I received this book from Scribner and made the decision to read and write an honest review.


3.5 Stars


Available August 14, 2018 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

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