Novel Approach: Mind games take a deadly turn in 'The Girls Are All So Nice Here'

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”—George Orwell

I don’t think there’s a sharper knife than the biting words hurled when teenagers engage in psychological warfare. You don’t believe me? Then you’ve never had a teen girl shred into your deepest insecurity with a single cutting glance.

As children, we play silly war games on the playground, but the girls ... well they study the Art of War and weaponize words in a way that would make high-ranking generals faint.

Our latest read takes us to a college campus in Connecticut where the mind games take a deadly turn.

‘The Girls Are All So Nice Here’ by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

In her adult novel debut, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn crafts a captivating and ruthless tale about the lengths the protagonist was willing to take to be accepted in college.

Ambrosia — “Amb” — has a secret, one she’s been hiding for more than a decade, about something she and a friend did when they were in college. With her 10-year reunion coming up, Amb isn’t interested in going back to Wesleyan, but someone is determined for her to attend and face her past.

“The Girls Are All So Nice Here” jumps from Amb’s freshman year of college to her present, as Flynn leaves readers tantalizing hints about Amb’s secret.

At college, all Amb wanted was to fit in with the classy girls at school. She wanted people to love her, and she wanted all eyes to be on her.

At Wesleyan, Amb finds herself torn between her sugary-sweet roommate, Flora, and cool girl Sully’s electric chaos, as she tries to find a balance between her friendship with the two girls.

Crackling with intrigue, Flynn’s novel dives into the darker elements of friendship and ambition, as Amb finds herself snagged in a vicious web of drama that extends far beyond her school days.

At school, Amb spends most of her time honing her tongue and cruelly tormenting her peers with Sully instead of furthering her academic education. When Amb falls for another girl’s boyfriend, she sets a sinister game into play that ends with disastrous consequences.

As an adult, Amb finds that she’s now the prey as someone else manipulates her into attending the reunion and forces her to reckon with crimes.

Readers will find themselves riveted to this clever and twisted page turner until the final sentence of Flynn’s chilling novel.

From the book jacket…

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself.

But then an invitation to her 10-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past — and the people she thought she’d left there — aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester.

This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused — the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

If you enjoy…

For readers looking for more thrillers with multiple timelines, bookworms might enjoy Megan Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls” or Riley Sager’s “The Last Time I Lied.”

tinamarie.craven@hearstmediact.com