Thursday, July 30, 2009

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

In their first semester of college at Smith, four girls who live on the same floor manage to forge a strong connection with each other, despite their completely different backgrounds. Bree is a Southern belle, April is the moody uber feminist, Sally has just lost her mother and Celia is the wannabe writer. The novel spans their wild times at college and what happens afterwards when the girls meet up for Sally's wedding. As can be expected during college, the girls experiment with their sexuality, drugs, alchohol, and social issues. As can be expected post-college, the girls have problems with relationships, jobs and finding their niche in the world. April is truly the only one that carries on with the feminism after graduation.

I think the problem with this book is that it tried too hard to be like a more socially conscious version of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep but with college students instead of high schoolers. Instead, readers end up with something that's more chick-lit than Sullivan probably wanted (I'd chalk it up to the sometimes cheesy dialogue and heavy emphasis on sex). Despite all this, I'd still peg the book as a good beach read, though the "dangerous ending" that the book jacket details (and all that foreshadowing throughout the novel) is a little uneven.

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