We’re starting off the week with Elizabeth Percer’s coming-of-age debut novel. Percer is a poet, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times for her short stories.
One draw here for young adult readers is the peek into life at the exclusive Wellesley College, and its mysterious Shakespeare Society. Percer herself is a Wellesley graduate and was a member of the Society; it’s no wonder those details ring true. An Uncommon Education is widely compared to Special Topics in Calamity Physics and “The Dead Poet’s Society.”
Adult/High School–From the time she was a child, Naomi Feinstein wanted to save those she loved: her father with his failing heart, her mother with her debilitating depression, and her only friend with his smothering mother. She is brilliant and determined to be a cardiologist. As she grows through adolescence, however, she becomes aware that loss is an integral part of life and love, something that she can neither prevent nor control. When she fulfills her dream to attend Wellesley College, she begins to discover the depths of her helplessness in saving others from their destiny. When a twist of fate provides entry into Wellesley’s oddly engaging Shakespeare Society, the hidden truths that have shaped her life begin to reveal themselves as secrets, lies, and well-intentioned deceptions meant to protect her from pain and sadness. As a member of a group of misfit and eccentric thespians, she begins to shed her nearly debilitating sense of isolation and self-consciousness. Events of her youth that seemed critically important to her identity become simply a part of her journey to self-discovery. This sad, accessible tale will appeal to patient and introspective teens comfortable with a sometimes meandering narrative, and those looking for insight into the unique and often highly competitive life on an upper-tier college campus.–John Sexton, Greenburgh Public Library, NY