Author: Elizabeth Percer
Genre: Fiction (Boston / Jewish / Coming-of-Age / Women's College / Loss / Depression / Place As Character)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (5/1/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The story of a brilliant but lonely only child, growing up in Boston, and her education in all things at Wellesley College.
Do I like the cover?: I love the cover -- it's beautiful and striking and the images are all representative of themes in the novel.
First line: On the day after my mother's death, I returned to 83 Beals Street for the first time in fifteen years.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy.
Why did I get this book?: My wife is a Wellesley grad.
Review: I hate writing this kind of review, because honestly, I should be all over a book like this, and it's not the book's fault it didn't click for me. (So far, everyone else on the blog tour has loved it, so definitely don't consider me only!) This is a lovely, quiet book about a girl who latches onto the idea of being a cardiologist before she even understands what that is, and grows up among loss, searching for love and safety.
Set in Boston, the story follows Naomi, a girl with a photographic memory, a mother suffering depression, and a father who adores Rose Kennedy. Noami adores her father and so attends Wellesley (like Rose Kennedy should have), where she finds a community of women she connects with, eventually learning to deal a little with loss and love. She becomes involved with the Shakespeare Society, an officially unofficial club of sorts on campus.
Despite the book's length, and Percer's lovely writing style, and the first person narration, I found Naomi very hard to know. Everyone felt at a distance and I just didn't click with Naomi. That was the huge reason for me that I'm not swooning over this book, I think. I don't know if that knowing Wellesley grads has affected my reading -- I've heard differing opinions on the Shakespeare Society for one thing -- and at times the story felt too close to read authentic. Percer clearly loved her time at Wellesley and it shows in this novel -- and/but at times, it also reads a bit like promotional material.
Place as character is huge here, from the Kennedy home in Brookline that Naomi spends so much time at as a child to the Wellesley campus (a beautiful and magical college campus as unreal as it sounds -- I've seen it!). If you want an armchair escape to a women's college that is as bucolic as you would imagine, this is your novel.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of An Uncommon Education to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 5/25. Be sure to check out my interview with Elizabeth Percer for another chance to enter!