Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan

Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan; read in July, 2009. Copy purchased by me.

Description from GoodReads:

A sparkling debut novel: a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the choices in the world, but no clear idea about which choices to make.

Classmates their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t be more different. Alone and together, they soon learn that Smith is a hothouse: of sexual discovery, political activism, female bonding, and carbohydrates eaten with abandon. And although several years after graduation they live in far-flung places, their Smith years have left them fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they must decide how it all applies to their own real world in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, it will mean grappling with one-night stands, loneliness and heartbreak, parental disapproval, and changing maiden names. But for April, whose college activism becomes her life’s work, it will mean something else entirely.

Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement not only captures the intensity of college friendships and first loves, but also explores with great candor the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today.

Commencement is an adult novel that came out last year.  I was up and down with this novel.  I enjoyed the sections set in college; it was fun to follow the girls as they explored their identities (including politics and sexuality) and the options available to them.  The bond developed based on room location is something many college freshmen can relate to.  I grew less interested in their post-college life and found April’s storyline downright irritating and unbelievable.  All four of the main characters never felt completely developed and I was unable to care about any of them.  The author takes advantage of many opportunities to discuss feminist ideas.  This was interesting to a certain extent but I can only read so much about what private school-educated white girls think about being a woman in today’s world before it grows tiresome.

Commencement is chick lit wanting to be more literary but not quite making it.  I think with more work, Ms. Sullivan could have put together a better book, but there is too much she is trying to accomplish.  It is a decent fluff read, just don’t expect too much, and be prepared for the outlandish storyline involving April in the second half of the book.

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1 Comment

Filed under adult lit, review

One response to “Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Commencement « ReviewsbyLola's Blog

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