Monday 26 June 2017

Review Time! - Such a Good Girl by Amanda K Morgan

(Warning: This review contains discussions of child abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse, amongst other such heavy topics.)

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Title: Such a Good Girl

Author: Amanda K Morgan

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Crime*, Thriller* (*ish)

Release Date: 20th June 2017

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley and The Review Chain.

NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

The Review Chain is an initiative to connect reviewers with authors seeking reviews.

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OK, I signed up to review this because The Review Chain needed more reviewers for it.

I was wary of it to begin with – hands up, total honesty! - because of the premise of a teenage girl dating her high-school French teacher.

I don't think anyone can blame me for being a little concerned!

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There are things I need to set out straight away:

  • This is NOT what a healthy relationship looks like.

  • 17, while not underage in the UK, is underage in a lot of states in America; this book is set in 'Hartsville' and I can't find the state, but the author lives in Tennessee - where there is a Hartsville. The age of consent in Tennessee is 18.

  • A relationship between an overage person and an underage person is abuse. THE FAULT IS NOT WITH THE UNDERAGE PERSON.

  • A relationship between a teacher and an overage student, while not illegal, would still be a) creepy, and b) professional misconduct (I say this in case this book is set in a non-Tennessee Hartsville.)

  • Groping without consent is sexual assault.

  • Physical restraint – unless for self-defence or to stop the person from hurting themselves – is physical ABUSE.

  • Agreeing to meet your teacher, alone, in isolated areas and/or their home is NOT SAFE.

  • Emotional manipulation is also abuse.

I know this is a lot of heavy stuff, but it's damned important to get these things established.


Riley Elizabeth Stone is absolutely perfect. In every way.

She would never be involved in an affair with her high school French teacher. Ever.

After all, she's such a good girl.


Best bits:

This book is immensely readable.

There's some – possibly slightly morbid – part of you that just wants to know how the whole thing pans out.

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The different levels of Riley's life – the perfect surface vs the secrets underneath – are compelling and interesting, even before she begins her relationship with Mr Belrose.

There's this intriguing contrast between the image that Riley gives to everyone of the perfect 'it-girl' who doesn't party, and the problems beneath the surface.

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I do like that this book makes you think – like, what is going on here, really?

Is Mr Belrose stringing Riley along, or does he really have feelings for her (no matter how creepy that is)?

Does he have other girlfriends at the school? Is his relationship with his wife as bad as it seems?

Is there more to this whole thing than we're seeing on the surface?

This book is smart and absorbing, and if you love twists and trying to figure things out, then it'll appeal to you.

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There are also people of colour (PoC) side-characters.

In the case of Neta (who is Latina,) in particular, this seems well done.

If anyone (especially PoC reviewers) has a more in-depth exploration of this aspect of the book, please let me know, I'd love to link!

Not so great bits:

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PLEASE pay attention to this!

Potentially distressing content in this book includes the following:

- paedophilia/abuse by authority figure (17-year-old girl & her teacher)

- child/victim grooming

- sexual abuse

- physical abuse (from romantic partner)

- sexual assault/groping

- stalking

- emotional abuse
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- drinking problem

- emotionally distant and neglectful parenting

- missing people

- murder

- possessive behaviour

There's also underage drinking (which is bad *nods wisely*.)

And there might be the odd swear word tucked in there somewheres – but honestly, if that's what's bothering you about this book then you probably need to reassess your priorities.

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If this book was going to frame this 'relationship' (abuse) in this way then it really should've added an author's note to explain the multitude of things that ARE NOT OK.

From a twisty-turny brain-teaser point of view, I can see why this has been done like this.

But this is a young adult book.

As an adult*, I'm always conscious of the fact that a lot of teens read this blog.

While I don't want to underestimate you guys in any way – I know you're not stupid – I also have a responsibility to... well... act responsible.**

Because if I don't? One of you guys might get hurt real bad. And I would never forgive myself.

*Yeah – I was surprised too.
**I know, boring, but what can you do?

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Being responsible sometimes means pointing out the obvious.

Because if there's even a chancethat someone might find this teacher-student set-up exciting or romantic (*is sick in corner*) then I want to be sure that I've provided all the information.

And the author hasn't.

This book – as far as I know, bearing in mind I had an eARC (a review copy) and there may be differences in the commercially available versions – has no author's note.

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I probably don't need to detail the amount of ways the central 'relationship' in this book is wrong – just, if you do, ultimately, decide to read this book, please keep in mind all of the points I made in the first section of this review.

There's a lot of sick and messed-up stuff in this book.

And I get that it's not meant to be anything else – but I still think it needs a comprehensive author's note. Really badly.

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I'm also unhappy about several parts which seem to apportion responsibility – or even blame – for the affair, onto Riley herself.


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My last big issue (if the abuse and victim-blaming weren't enough for you,) is with ableism.

This book uses 'crazy,' 'nuts,' etc. instead of... I don't know, 'possessive,' 'inappropriate,' or 'downright creepy.'

While I'm used to words/slurs describing mental health problems being used casually, and it doesn't tend to bother me that much, I know that it bothers a lot of people.

And honestly? In this book it's completely unnecessary, and just reads as a bit lazy.

There's also instances which refer to Riley seeing a psychologist and being in therapy which, ultimately, are designed to discredit her and make her seem less reliable.

That's not ok.


Yes, it's smart and readable.

BUT – It needs an author's note. BADLY.

Without one, I really can't in good conscience recommend it.

The Review Chain Stamp

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  1. I'm willing to give this book a try, because every single teen tv show I've watched that has a teacher-student relationship in it has portrayed it in the most disgusting way. Nothing is ever done to stop it, it is normalized. I'd like to see if this book is put in the same way. Judging by your review, I don't think it is.

    1. It *kind of* isn't - but there's still a **lot** of issues with the way everything plays out so, just be aware of that.

  2. The book does sound interesting..and like you say I'd probably stick with it if only to see what happens at the end but i agree a book like this should have an author's note. It's a NECESSITY. I really hope the commercial finished copy has one!

    1. Me too. I really wonder why authors don't take advantage of author's notes more often - it would get them out of so many awkward situations!

  3. Great review Cee!
    I'm not too keen on the whole plot thing and all your warnings doesn't make me that interested in it. Thanks for the heads up!

    Dinh @Arlene's Book Club

    1. Welp, that's what the warnings are there for! :)

  4. Thanks so much for signing up to this chain just because it needed more reviewers! Especially if you were already wary of it. It means a lot to me <3 But yes... I am glad this one reads well and that it maintained your curiosity throughout the whole novel. That's what a book needs to do. I agree with you though -- it does need an author's note to warn us of all the things you warned us of.

    1. No problem *salutes Liv, our fearless leader!* And yeah... some books just need an author's note. Really bad.


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