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His Favorites

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,548 ratings  ·  392 reviews
A “tense, taut, and thrilling” (Marie Claire) novel about a teenage girl, a predatory teacher, and a school’s complicity from the highly acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award finalist and author of A Short History of Women—“riveting, terrifying, exactly the book for our times” (Ann Patchett).

They were on a lark, three teenaged girls speeding across the greens at night
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Scribner (first published August 14th 2018)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,548 ratings  ·  392 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DEVASTATING BUT TIMELY. Three young girls, fifteen, drinking, decide on a lark, stealing a golf cart for a wild, nighly ride, that has a horrific end. Enough so a mother feels the urgent need to give her daughter a new start, sending her away to a boarding school. What she encounters there will haunt her for the rest of her life.

The me too movement, the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, people entrusted with power of one sort or another, instead use it for their own gain. Preying on the wea
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on a whim at the library having heard nothing about it beforehand. I'd hazard to say that this book should be read without reading the blurb on the cover's flap, as it gives quite a bit away that happens within the first 10 pages and are more enjoyable upon one's own discovery. Nonetheless, I adored Walbert's writing style. She captures intensity so well, a poetic expression of grief and sorrow and rage and angst. But it is short-lived; the book is only 160 pages and definitely ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pugilistic pack of punch, pop, pummel--at 160 pages--for this era of reckoning for men who've abused positions of power and trust to sexually assault, rape and/or sexually harass females. His Favorites sketches--in shades of charcoal looking back from today-- the type of mental devastation suffered by a woman who was violated as a 15-year-old at a private boarding school in the early 1980s, and the detritis, still, of dreams wrecked by a charming pedophile who targeted her among many others most ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
With sparse, lyrical language, author of His Favorites, Kate Walbert, shines a light on women’s rights as she tells us about Jo’s tragic and unsettling experiences. After being in a deadly accident at 15 years old with her best friends, Jo, a wild and now emotionally broken high school student is sent off to boarding school. Her life at home crumbled, her friendships broken, and the new beginning her life away at school had the potential of being is not going in the right direction. Memories and ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was going to a winner for me. I love the plot- a 15 year old girl accidentally kills her best friend, her parents marriage tanks, and she finds herself at a boarding school where an English teacher preys upon his favorites.

But I found the writing style stiff and jumpy. So much is left unsaid, unexplained. For such a short book, it gets bogged down by long sentences and constant detours.

It is a short read, so if you like Walberts writing style, then you may very well enjoy this.
lark benobi
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: she-2020, 2020, scribner
Somehow this book escaped me last year and it wasn't until I read a review of My Dark Vanessa that mentioned it that I sought it out.

As someone who grew up next to a golf course, and who spent my pre-kindergarten days, even the rain-pelting-down days (it was Seattle, after all), walking the golf course behind my scratch-golfer mother, I might be predisposed to adore this book more than others, because Walbert nails golf-course rhythms, golf-course culture, golf-course smells so accurately in th
Emma Eisenberg
A stunner of a nugget, but ultimately unsatisfying for me sadly. On the sentence level Walbert slays, but the ambition of this book simply feels bigger than 149 pages allows, no matter how artfully arranged. I would have liked to see this book more fully imagined & realized. The Master and those at the boarding school read like cartoon villains, when perhaps what is most insidious about predators in these environments are the ways they are also human. Would have liked to see more bodies on the p ...more
Karen Foster
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There are times when you just feel you are in the safe hands of a truly skilled writer.
As an older Jo narrates her tragic tale, looking back to when she is 15, she wanders off course, as memories materialize vividly, relaying her heartbreaking account, often veering away from the chronology. It’s as though she cannot bear to tell us what happened to her. And this kept me so gripped, anxious to discover her story.
The writing is sparse and exact, yet I really connected with Jo..... It’s a style I
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018
Honestly if this weren't so short, I might have abandoned halfway through.

Jo kills her friend when recklessly driving a golf cart late at night, and so she gets sent away to boarding school, where she is preyed upon by a teacher.

This a plot that I would expect to like, but the characters are never properly developed and the issues not fully explored. The writing is lovely but meandering.

Would not recommend.
Chelsea Humphrey
I think it comes down to the fact that this one just wasn’t for me. I wanted more, and it wasn’t what I had expected from the blurb on the back. The writing is excellent though, and I would be interested in reading another plot from Walbert in the future.
Martie Nees Record
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
Pub. Date: Aug. 14, 2018

"His Favorites” is a slice of life story about the wealthy with two different plotlines connected by the female protagonist, Jo. It is written by the acclaimed American author Kate Walbert. Similar to Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, “Prep,” this tale is a powerful coming of age story that spotlights (no matter how rich you are) the vulnerability and powerlessness of female girls. Unlike “Prep,” there is no laught
Alison Hardtmann
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
His Favorites by Kate Walbert is a novel best read with as little knowledge about it as possible. The book begins with fifteen-year-old Jo hanging out with her two best friends one night, when they decide to steal a golf cart and go joy-riding around the course.

His Favorites is a very short novel, that covers a lot of ground, but each paragraph and sentence is so well-crafted, and the book is so well put together that it has the impact of a much larger work. If you decide to read it, I highly r
Elle K
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Spotty and filled with run-on sentences that empty the story. There are better novels that tackle similar issues.
Patrick Brown
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of a strange book from a pacing perspective. I struggled through the first 30-40 pages, and then read the rest in basically one sitting. Some beautiful writing and a fun, tricky narrative.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
This was really excellent. I remember how Walbert's A Short History of Women left me kind of cold, but this short novel struck me. The final image is incredibly sad and very powerful. After reading this I am all the more infuriated by Betsy DeVos's proposed new "protections" for the accused in school sexual harassment/assault cases. ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m being generous with the three stars; this tale was a waste of time. Too many stories out there like it, but written much better, or simply true.
reading is my hustle
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
this is a timely read for #metoo & another devastating story of trauma. it is upsetting to read the many accounts & instances where grown-ups failed to protect young women (in both fiction & non-fiction). in this novel, a young woman remembers past events & reveals only fragments of her memories. i found the writing in this book to be reflective of memory; it's not always linear, the narrative wanders a bit, and at times it's strange. the way this story is told won't be for everyone but i found ...more
A short, stylish book. Minimalist, but very pointed. A young girl is sent to boarding school after a tragic accident; She's vulnerable--only 15 years old--and the perfect target. What happens next is all too believable.

It's a story of power dynamics, both between genders and also among the same sex. Perhaps the most convincing thing about this book is how familiar the story feels. You could be listening to a friend, who is telling you their past in a whisper, or reading a headline. Walbert writ
Contains some of the longest run-on sentences that I have ever read. So long that I had to read them again to remember what the subject of the sentence was meant to be. For example, pages 51 and 52. The book is difficult to follow as it jumps around in time without any indication.

While the topics are relevant, the execution and resolutions/conclusions of them are lacking. At least, for me. As they say, to each his own.

Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
First, thank you to Scribner books for the copy of His Favorites as I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own.

Incredibly haunting and poignant His Favorites is told in narrative by Jo. At just 15 years old Jo accidentally kills her best friend which ultimately shuns her family from the community and takes a toll on her parents marriage. Jo's mother decides to send her to Hawthorne, a boarding school where Jo will face the demon who is referred
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I regret reading this book. There's a huge set-up - a deep dark, premise that is intriguing - yet the actual plot is a complete let down.

That being said, I felt like the actual story was true to real life. The author describes several instances of female characters being abused, violated, let down, etc. in many contexts. The result is sort of a "free association" or train-of-thought retelling of the author's experiences being abused by a teacher. This fits with how we often remember stories, co
Jun 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ----

Idk wth is going on here, but there was no point in trying to get to the end of this when it wasn't making any sense at all. Maybe there is a story in there somewhere, but I have no idea what it might be. It jumped around. The run-on sentences were ridiculous. No characters w/ any, well, character. Sadly, nothing of interest here. The description on goodreads is as good as it gets with this thing. Hate it, but there you have it

Chris Carithers
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I should have smashed those spectacles to glass so fine he would never not remember how I ruined his vision - decisive, quick, imperative - and wrecked that world of his own making, its heroes, its scholars, it founding members, generals, politicians, row after row after row after row of men and not real and not true for me, for me, not how I was, or what I saw and thought. Not anything. I could have; I should have; I did not.

But I was fifteen. I could no more have formed those words, those th
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is so much packed into this small book. The author conveyed such emotion and fully drawn out characters with few words. But, nothing was missing and the story resonated so much personally and with what’s going on in the world today.
Kelly Keefe
Mar 12, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the F*** did I just read?
Jessica Park Rhode
Beautifully written. Read this bc Becca loved it.

I love the last image of Jo and Stephanie in the magnolia tree and I love the poetics woven into the pattern of the text. It’s both beautiful and ominous

But this book is like The Vegetarian or Lolita. I can appreciate it, but I can’t say that I it?
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This novel and I did not get along. It is overwritten and full of digressions. I wanted to like it more. I read another goodreads review that is similar to my reaction and some other person chastised her and said she was apparently expecting a romance and that this novel is timely and excellent and that the reviewer wasn't sympathetic to the #metoo moment. I didn't see anything in the review that said she was expecting a romance. She commented on the craft and structure, not the story. Not every ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friendship
Sparse and eloquent... just a really perfectly constructed book that almost reads like a short story. Really lovely.
Feb 07, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing premise about a girl who flees to boarding school after a scandalous hometown tragedy, only to catch the attention of an overly interested English teacher. This book is only 149 pages and yet it was quite a slog to get through it. I was thoroughly confused and lost for most of the book, and had to reread passages often. There were countless tangents and the timeline was hard to follow, which made for a really frustrating read. To be honest it would be hard for me to even summarize wha ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those in the Speech and Forensics world out there, would make a really lovely Prose or even Duo.
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Kate Walbert was born in New York City and raised in Georgia, Texas, Japan and Pennsylvania, among other places.

She is the author of A Short History of Women, chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2009 and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize; Our Kind, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2004; The Gardens of Kyoto, winner of the 2002 Connecti

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“I don’t know how others reconcile what happened before with what happens now. For me, the past is a cool, dark pond in which I will always stand partially submerged. That’s just the way it is.” 1 likes
“So here is what actually happened, what happens still: the scene on its parallel track to now, to me: linear and constant, never passing into the past, never speeding into the future.” 0 likes
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