Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Uncommon Education

An Uncommon Education, by Elizabeth Percer.

After several hours had passed of her being uncomplaining but displeased, she asked me about my plans now that my caregiver role had ended. I told her I intended to attend the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass with the goal of conducting medical research in neurofibromatosis and she shook her fine head.

"They used to say that girls went to Wellesley to make a difference in the world. It was your motto or something. Have you done that? Made a difference? Do you intend to? Her face was open and curious, if not harsh. It was the most direct exchange we had ever had.

"No," I answered. "I don't think I have. Or will."

She nodded, accepting my answer. "Your mother was the same way. Could have had an uncommonly good education, but she had other ideas. Perhaps if you had been a boy you would have done more with your potential," she remarked.

"I have had a good education," I said. "And now that I'm doing what I want with it, it's also uncommon."

An Uncommon Education, out in stores today, is the first novel of author Elizabeth Percer, and in the blurb I received, it was being compared to Prep, one of my favorite books, so I was excited to read it. Unfortunately, it takes a more meandering approach, though curiously almost skipping the main character's high school years, and I only found it vaguely similar to Prep and other books of its genre.

Naomi Feinstein lives with her mother and father, and is best friends with the boy next door, Teddy. When Teddy's father dies and he and his strict Orthodox mother move away, her world collapses. Her father has had a heart attack too, and she decides that she is going to become a doctor and study hearts; this choice will go on to define her high school and college years. Rose Kennedy, one of her idols, had said that she wished she had went to Wellesley, and since Naomi also lives in Massachusetts, she sets Wellesley as her goal college. Once she actually arrives there, however, she has problems fitting in at first, and she joins Shakes, the secret Shakespeare society on campus; another choice that will end up defining her time at Wellesley.

This book was interesting in that at some points in it, I was fascinated by Naomi and her character; and at other points, unfortunately, the prose seemed rather verbose and I was just trying to get through the novel. The author herself attended Wellesley, which we can divine from the very detailed descriptions of the campus buildings and the aura surrounding the campus itself, and the writing itself was overall very good. I liked Naomi as a person, but at the same time I was frustrated with some of the choices that she made. I also was thinking that she and Teddy would reunite romantically some day, and they do reunite in her senior year of college; however, there is a twist regarding this.

3 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed, however, are my own.


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