'The Girls Are All So Nice Here' by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn kept me up all night — literally

Morgan Hines, USA TODAY
·2 min read
"The Girls Are All So nice Here" by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
"The Girls Are All So nice Here" by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

If the title of Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's latest novel, "The Girls Are All So Nice Here" (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., ★★★★ out of four), makes you think you're in for a few hundred pages of sweet sorority anecdotes mixed with typical college tales ... think again.

"The Girls Are All So Nice Here" kept me up all night – literally. I tore through the book in less than 24 hours, forcing my eyes to stay open as if the remaining pages wouldn't be there in the morning.

Flynn puts the reader inside the mind of Ambrosia Wellington, a public relations professional living in Astoria and working in Manhattan who we quickly learn is a graduate of Wesleyan, a posh private university in Middletown, Connecticut.

The book starts with an invitation written in calligraphy, as many dramas do. But this one, for Wesleyan's 10-year reunion, comes with a note: “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

Dark knowledge of what she did "that night" has gnawed Amb inside out since her freshman year. If she attends the reunion, all of it is very likely to emerge, permanently corrupting the new life she's built with her puppy-like husband, Adrian, from whom she has kept many secrets.

Eventually Amb caves and agrees to attend, unintentionally reuniting with her former best friend – the magnetic force of nature that is Sloane Sullivan, or "Sully," another recipient of cryptic notes leading up to the reunion weekend.

As the story careens, alternating chapters between her freshman year of college and at her reunion, readers learn that while Amb has been guarding a toxic truth for a decade, she has been pretending her entire life. Pretending to fit in with the girls in high school. Shedding her hometown identity to fit in with the girls in college – with hopes to gain Sully's attention, which worked. Then, she changed once more in an attempt to leave the ugliness behind and just get through. No matter what shape Amb shifts into, it's clear she has never been satisfied with herself or with those around her, thinking always that others have more.

All the ugly truths hidden under snark, style or plain lies catch up with her, manifesting in further destruction on top of what she and Sully caused all those years ago.

Finishing the novel, I lay in bed, unsettled by a plot that features women quite literally ripping each other apart over jealousy, pettiness and revenge. The girls are not so nice.

"The Girls Are All So Nice Here" hits shelves Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'The Girls Are All So Nice Here': Spoiler, the girls are not so nice