She Reads: ‘Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good’ by Nancy Werlin

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This week in She Reads, we have an incredibly surprising work, “Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good” by Nancy Werlin. In this novel, we meet Zoe Rosenthal a straight-A, ambitious straightlaced student who is laser-focused on her goals. 

Zoe has a step-by-step layout for her life. She plans on attending college and marrying her “perfect” boyfriend right after. She keeps her sights set on her future and exactly what she plans on that future being. Zoe’s complexity is immediately apparent from the start of the book. You can almost feel a sense of Zoe holding her breath while you learn about her piece by piece. 

I found Zoe incredibly relatable to my old high school self; someone who had it all planned down to the letter and upon discovering who I was, watched those plans blow away like dust. This feeling seems to be all too familiar within teenagers and youth of today. You feel like you have to have everything planned out whenever in all actuality, you could not be more out of control of your future.  

Author Nancy Werlin shows us throughout this book that being out of control might not always be a bad thing. Sometimes when we hold on to the smallest details of everything, we lose sight of the larger picture and miss the thrill of it all.  

From Zoe presenting as the perfect daughter, student, and young adult at the start, to her beginning to choose herself in her decision making, we are able to see one of the most intricate writings of character development that I have come across. In fact, the term “character blossoming” might be more fitting.  

I absolutely recommend this lighthearted, meaningful book to anyone who is, or ever has been, overwhelmed by the choice’s life throws at us. Hopefully, you can see bits of yourself reflected in our protagonist as Zoe faces decisions that reveal who she really is and change everything for the future she needs, but not necessarily the one originally planned. 

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