#AllGirlsBlogParty and a Gourmet Breakfast Sandwich

Welcome to the All Girls Blog Party!   Today’s celebration is not an exclusive event.  We welcome all,  but we are celebrating the new book by Emily Layden:  All Girls.

About the Book:

A keenly perceptive coming of age novel for fans of Sally Rooney, Curtis Sittenfeld, and J. Courtney Sullivan, All Girls follows nine young women as they navigate their ambitions and fears at a prestigious New England prep school, all pitched against the backdrop of a scandal the administration wants silenced.

But as the months unfold, and the school’s efforts to control the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary girls are forced to discover their voices and their power. A tender and unflinching portrait of modern adolescence told through the shifting perspectives of an unforgettable cast of female students, All Girls explores what it means to grow up in a place that promises you the world––when the world still isn’t yours for the taking.

You grow to love a place… and then you grow up.

About the Author:

EMILY LAYDEN is a graduate of Stanford University, and has taught at several girls’ schools nationwide. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner’s World. All Girls is her first novel.

What I thought…

I enjoyed this novel (but not quite as much as Big Lies in a Small Town, another Winter Blog Party celebrant).

All Girls is set during a crisis of conscience, perceptions and traditions at an exclusive boarding school in Connecticut.  As the new school term  opens, someone is posting road signs accusing a male teacher of the unthinkable.  One can imagine how parents are feeling, dropping off their daughters here.  But, the school is prestigious, has a great reputation and their PR firm is managing the scandal well.

The above blurb states that the book follows nine girls as they traverse their way through this school year.  Layden actually delves into the lives of many more girls (albeit some are more important to the plot than others).

The Girls

  • Lauren:  a 9th grader—a middle class kid who carefully researched her Atwater choice
  • Macy:  a 9th grader—a runner (but also an IEP student with some emotional issues that she’s trying to manage)
  • Louisa:  a co-editor of the student paper
  • Chloe:  a junior that has endured  an initiation
  • Celeste:  a sophomore Chinese-American student
  • Abby:  a junior who seems she can’t keep a roommate
  • Sloane:  a junior a ballet dancer
  • Emma:  a senior navigating a serious relationship
  • Bryce:  a 9th grade legacy student
  • Collier:  a senior fourth generation legacy student
  • Mia:  a senior rebel
  • Anjali:  a senior co-editor of the student paper
  • Kat:  a senior devoted to her faith
  • Priya:  a senior, she tasks an underclassman to losing her virginity as an initiation ritual
  • Olivia: beautiful senior leader at the school (Emma’s girlfriend)
  • Plus Karen Mirro, the “vigilante” victim  (She’s not a “girl” as she graduated before this bunch.)

I’m rating this a four out of five only because of a few nagging feelings about the book. The writing is stellar and Layden dives deep into the narratives and background of the students.  Layden did her homework at least on the few things I’m familiar with like school lingo–IEP, APUSH, college admission process, etc.  (Albeit my experience has been exclusively in public schools.)

I was able to identify on some level with every single character, even though they were all teenage girls.

My only complaint—did she hit the “Me, too” topic hard enough? Or, was that her message for us all? How many times does it still get swept under the rug?

Some of her other attention to detail, however, gave me pause. Maybe she was further creating a sense of authenticity with the private girls school crowd, but I started not to care which designer some students chose for formal gowns or that graduation dresses were ordered from Anthropologie. Minor complaint.

Layden’s characters are grappling with not only teenage-ness and navigating a serious crisis in the school’s history but they also are experiencing the gamut of other issues and experiences: eating disorders, sexual identity, mental illness, sexual harassment/abuse/date rape…. Some heavy stuff.

At times, I thought this could cross over to the YA category but on reflection, maybe not.

The Food:

This was not a food-centric novel but there were a few things to spark some recipes:

  • salad with “safe-colored chickpeas” (855)
  • Frosted Flakes (1717)
  • acorn squash and green beans and roasted turkey (1736)
  • designer egg McMuffins (served on little ciabatta rolls ) with maple sausage (1739)
  • food trucks serving high-end artisan food like banh mi tacos and smoked gouda grilled cheese (1753)
  • hot cider (1755)
  • cider doughnuts (1762)
  • Sour Patch Kids (2602)
  • Jam from Sarabeth’s (2761)
  • burnt coffee and past-its-prime winter fruit (2087)
  • avocado fries with aioli (4100)
  • poke, bibimbap, California cheeses (4940)

Obviously, the food trucks mentioned offered some inspiration but I was stuck on the “designer egg McMuffins.”

She starts fantasizing about breakfast, about Atwater’s designer egg McMuffins (served on little ciabatta rolls instead) and maple sausage, neither of which she’d eaten since her freshman year, because only freshmen and a certain kind of upperclasswoman eat from the hot-food bar at breakfast. (1736)

(All citations are ebook pages.)

I decided to make these for a weekend brunch for two.  It just so happened it was Valentine’s Day weekend so it was an added plus.

This is an outstanding recipe, though. Just manage your time.

I made my own ciabatta rolls using a recipe at King Arthur.  This recipe is a two-day process, making the sponge to set overnight and then a total of 5-6 hours for other risings.  Plan accordingly.

Gourmet Breakfast Sandwich


Let’s elevate that Egg McMuffin.


  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 2 maple sausage patties
  • 2 eggs (cooked to your liking)
  • 2 slices muenster
  • Dijon mustard
  • baby spinach


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. In a small skillet, cook the sausage until browned and done. (If you don’t have maple sausage, you can brush regular sausage patties with a bit of maple syrup before serving.)  While sausage cooks, prepare your eggs (scramble, poach, fry, etc.).
  3. Split the ciabatta rolls and spread Dijon mustard on the bottom halves. Place both the top and bottom halves under the broiler (split sides up) until toasted.
  4. After sausage is cooked, eggs are done and rolls are toasted, assemble sandwiches. Layer spinach leaves on the bottom roll.  Place egg, the sausage patty, and a slice of muenster cheese on top of the sausage patty. Top with the other half of the toasted split roll. Serve with fruit.

Yield: 2

Thanks again to The Book Club Cookbook for the opportunity to read and review this book.  (I did receive a free copy for an honest review.)  

You can follow The Book Club Cookbook on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I hope you check out the other bloggers that offered up reviews and recipes today.

All Girls Party Participants

The Book Blondie: Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Bookapotamus: Apple Ginger Mini Pies

The Bookend Diner: Apple Cider Doughnuts

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Just Fancied Up Pigs-in-a-Blanket

A Day in the Life on the Farm: College Bound Tuna Mac

Eliot’s Eats: Gourmet Breakfast Sandwich

A Hat for Every Read: Spinach, Onion and Cheese Croissant Roll-ups

Kahakai Kitchen: “Lord of the Fries” Avocado Fries with Garlic-Sriracha Aioli

My Novel Menagerie: Spinach and Artichoke Baked Mac and Cheese

The Book Club Cookbook: Apple Cider Doughnuts

I’m linking up with Foodies Read and Souper Sundays today as well.

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