An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publisher
Naomi Feinstein spends much of her childhood dreaming of becoming a doctor, and even the devastating event of her best friend’s moving away when she is young cannot deter her from that dream. When she’s accepted into Wellesley, she is sure she’ll find her place in the world. Wellesley, unfortunately, is not the perfection she imagined it would be, and Naomi finds herself just as alone as ever, except this time she’s in a sea of girls who seem to have everything together. When she receives an invitation in her second year to join the Shakespeare Society, it finally feels like things in her life are falling into place. But secret societies are rife with scandals, and Naomi finds herself smack dab in the middle of a huge one – and she’s forced to make choices about loyalty, friendship, and about putting herself first.
I had high hopes for An Uncommon Education. And actually I was really enjoying this novel in the beginning. I loved the relationship between Naomi and her childhood friend Teddy. I was captivated by their chaste best-friendship and interested to see what Percer would do with this relationship once they grew up. Unfortunately, when Naomi is around twelve years old, Teddy’s mother moves him away and he’s not spoken of until the very end of the book. This was a huge disappointment to me, as it was only in the moments Naomi was with Teddy that I connected to her at all. So I was left feeling frustrated and annoyed that my favorite aspect of the novel was cut so short.
Overall, I just didn’t connect to the novel like I’d hoped I would. I wanted to like Naomi, but I found her prickly and just couldn’t get to know her fully. I didn’t get as into the Shakespeare Society element of the book as I had expected I would, and when a tragedy happened towards the end of the novel, I didn’t feel as sad as one would expect. I liked the concept though, and there were parts of the novel I did really like (most notably, Naomi’s childhood). Also I found the writing to be excellent.
I’m torn on this one because while there were elements about it I liked, the overall experience was less than stellar. I’ve seen some pretty favorable reviews, though, so don’t just take my word for it. If you like this kind of story it might work better for you than it did for me.