New Book Review: Neighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley

Hey all, it’s Sarah!

I almost passed out from excitement when I found out Foley had a new book coming out. I absolutely loved her first novel, Carnival at Bray, which was a fantastic historical fiction novel. I knew that I loved her previous novel and was quickly reminded why when I started to read this new book. Her superb writing style and gritty realism are back in full force. Fair warning, you will need a box of tissues for this book.


Wendy Boychuck and all of the women in her family have attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart. This family legacy will soon end, because at the end of Wendy’s junior year, AHS will be closing. Wendy begins to reflect on her life. Several years ago, her father was sent to jail for crimes he committed while he was a cop. His past has tarnished the Boychuck name and Wendy works hard to cultivate a personae that keeps people away and protects herself. Wendy has become friends with the baddest Bs in school, who lob backhanded compliments during each conversation. Wendy has decided she no longer wants to be a bystander and allow their terrible behavior to continue. Wendy is looking for redemption, but is having trouble finding the right path.


The actual plot of this novel isn’t totally compelling, but the writing, characters and overall development make this a novel that I will make an appearance on my shortlist for this year’s award winners. Wendy’s faith feels so real and representative of how I have seen many interact with their Catholic faith (I was raised Catholic and even attended a Catholic elementary school…which has also closed due to lack of attendance). Wendy oscillates between between indifference and steadfastness. I found her adventures through Chicago to be something I want to replicate. I want to visit the nearest international airport and come up with plans for the future, too. I was totally taken by all of the characters. They felt real and I wanted to know more about them (though maybe not meet some of them in real life…). The twist was a chest punch and of course I was reading during my break at work in the librarian’s lounge…it sucks holding back ugly tears so you don’t scare your coworkers. I loved this book, loved the romantic interest, Tino, and I am excited for anything more that Foley writes.

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