A woman looks back at her traumatic teenage years in boarding school, where hazing and sexual abuse by faculty members were rampant, including her own abuse at the hands of a 34-year-old English teacher.
Kate Walbert's most powerful novel yet is a case study in the perversities of power imbalances. This slim but by no means slight novel continues Walbert's explorations of how society's sexual biases and constraints have hampered women ... Walbert, known for sophisticated, multiply-stranded narratives that span generations, has pared her new novel into a sharp blade ... With Jo Hadley, Walbert has created a consummately credible character, convincing as both a bright, vulnerable, traumatized yet un-self-pitying teenager and a sympathetic, clear-eyed but bruised adult ... Walbert heightens the suspense by cutting back and forth in time, as Jo puts off the most difficult parts of her story ... Jo is a savvy raconteur who recognizes that there are many ways to frame a story, from different perspectives ... Walbert's novel is fueled by gorgeous writing as well as moral outrage. It's an artful argument for the importance of the long overdue #MeToo movement, but it's more than that ... His Favorites is heartbreaking and galvanizing.
His Favorites isn’t so much a novel — or even, at a slender 150 pages, a novella — as an experiment in taking control of a narrative ... The result is that her abuser — a 34-year-old modern literature professor called 'Master, or Master Aikens, or M,' is the flimsiest part of His Favorites, a shadow rather than a substantive presence ... And His Favorites isn’t a simple narrative of trauma and survival, but something more challenging, and potentially more valuable — a reckoning not just with the reality of abuse, but with the pernicious ways it can shape and inform everything, even the stories you tell yourself.
If you’ve ever read a news story about sexual abuse and thought, oh, seriously, how could it have gone on for so long? Why wouldn’t she have told someone at the time? This book will answer all your questions ... It’s as if she’s trying to tell the reader what happened while making it clear we don’t have to worry about her. Boy, do we worry about her. This is a wildly compelling and completely believable tale that is exactly the book for our time. How does #MeToo happen? It happens like this. His Favorites was a real favorite in the back room at Parnassus.