June 1, 2012
Book Review: An Uncommon Education
Title: An Uncommon Education
Author: Elizabeth Percer
Book: Hardcover, 352 pages
A young woman tries to save three people she loves in this elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut.
Afraid of losing her parents at a young age—her father with his weak heart, her deeply depressed mother—Naomi Feinstein prepared single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. An outcast at school, Naomi loses herself in books, and daydreams of Wellesley College. But when Teddy, her confidant and only friend, abruptly departs from her life, it's the first devastating loss from which Naomi is not sure she can ever recover, even after her long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.
Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness—until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.
The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. Naomi finally begins to detach from the past and so much of what defines her, immersing herself in this exciting and liberating new world and learning the value of friendship. But her happiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings irrevocable consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but part of growing up is learning that sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.
An Uncommon Education is a compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations. Poignant and wise, it artfully captures the complicated ties of family, the bittersweet inevitability of loss, and the importance of learning to let go.
The first thing that drew me to this book was the beautiful cover. You don't know it yet, but each picture is a symbolic representation of the events that go on in Naomi's life. These symbols control her life and set her on a path through grief, friendship, loss, and discovery. The novel's plot is written beautifully and allows you to really relate to the characters and to the experiences they are going through.
I also love the use of history in this novel. One of the main experiences Naomi has is visiting the Kennedy's birthplace in Brookline, which is a museum that can be visited and where you here Rose Kennedy's voice describing the rooms and what memories they shared there. It is here that her adventures seem to begin and change her life forever. There is also history unfolded at the Shakespeare Society, which sounds like a fun honor society immortilizing one of the most famous playwrights. Plays are done each semester and friendships are made, as well as romance.
I would say one of the biggest themes for this novel is loss; Naomi experiences a sudden loss at an early age as well as a gradual loss of her mother over time. Both of these lend a different experience to Naomi and seem to shape her character and her decisions.
I really enjoyed this book and all the thought-provoking and soul-searching it lent. It made me want to pick up a Shakespeare and read, as well as kiss my parents and tell them I love them, and spend time with my friends. It makes you remember what is important and to hold on to what is dear to you. I highly recommend this story for those who want to get away and be drawn into a different kind of story. It was also selected as one of Amazon's top 10 books of May 2012, which lends it some much-deserved accolades. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in order to create this review. The opinions expressed are of my own. Thank you to Trish at TLC Book Tours.
Posted by Scientific Housewife at 8:00 AM