Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Genre: Adult- Contemporary
Source: From the publisher via TLC Book Tours
Description from Goodreads: For fans of "Prep," "Dead Poets Society," and "Special Topics in Calamity Physics "comes an elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut, in which a young woman's serendipitous discovery of her college's underground Shakespeare Society leads to an unforgettable series of transformations. When Naomi finds herself among "the Shakes" at Wellesley, she finally lets herself embrace the passionate inner self she's always kept locked away. But when a sudden scandal unfolds, she will be forced to learn the limits of the relationships that have sustained her. An intimate and enthralling narrative, Elizabeth Percer's debut novel An Uncommon Education marks the emergence of a stunning new literary talent.
Review: I'm on the blog tour for this novel. And, umm, let's just say my reading experience with AN Uncommon Education did not go well. I try to remain as professional as possible at all times, but sometimes...SOMETIMES you just gotta rant. I'll tone it down, but I've got a lot to say, and I imagine my emotions are going to get in the way.
At page 10, I was worried I was not going to like this book. By page 30, I was falling asleep. By page 50, I was so angry I was wasting my time on this snoozefest that I started growling. Around page 100ish, it picked up when the protagonist got to school. Fifty pages later, I was ready to scream again. At that point I figured I may as well finish. Yeah, I could have quit and saved myself the heartache, but I was on the blog tour. I was sent this book for review. I really felt an obligation to finish and give my honest opinion. So I did. I will admit to scanning the last twenty or so pages just so I could complete it. It was that bad.
Trying to articulate why this was such a poor reading experience is tough. There is nothing inherently wrong with the novel, just a combination of a lot of things that completely did not work for me. Poor pacing, lack of compelling plot, unlikable characters, etc. There was nothing that made me want to read from one page to the next. The language was pretentious and I felt the author was trying too hard. She went to Wellesley. She knows the layout of the buildings. I get it. How many times did I have to be told this?
It's tough for the reviewer when an author puts so many of his/her real life experiences into a book. I feel like if I criticize it too much it's a personal affront. I seriously do not mean it to be. The writing wasn't bad and it flowed okay, but if I had spent my hard-earned money on this book, I would have been pissed. It was literally one of the most boring things I have ever read. With the amount of classics I have tried to read these last couple of years, this is truly saying something. An Uncommon Education was soooo slow. Where was the plot? I don't even know how to summarize this book for you, but I'll try!
First of all, the blurb is deceiving. It makes this book sound like it's intriguing. Sudden scandal! Enthralling! Coming-of-age! Passionate! Think again. This is the story of a Jewish girl who has a mom with depression and a dad who has a heart attack. She makes friends with the next-door-neighbor Jewish boy and they begin a sweet friendship. Boring stuff happens and she continues to grow up until she goes to college and one of her classmates falls in the lake. This is a lot less exciting than it sounds. She joins the Shakespeare society, which again, is a lot less interesting than it sounds. Basically, this entire book is the summation of a childhood until adulthood. She's a normal, uninteresting girl. The story is a coming-of-age, but it's a boring one because there is nothing remarkable about this book or its characters.
An Uncommon Education could have been less wordy and much shorter. That would have improved it, certainly. It still would have been pretty dull, but at least it would have been shorter and paced quicker. Instead, the author had to drag every scene out and make the entire first hundred pages one of the most tiring experiences I have ever had reading a book.
So why two stars and not one? Because I appreciate a wordsmith. I appreciate an author who can put words down on paper and do it well. I can only hope that the next book this author decides to write has a stronger plot and more compelling pages.