Cum Laude

by Cecily von Ziegesar

"For the first week of school you cling to the people you met on orientation, not because you have anything in common, but because you don't know who else to talk to..."

This novel follows the lives of a group of freshmen students through their first year at Dexter College, in the 1990s.  The narratives include those of Shipley, a beautiful blonde who the boys love and the girls hate.  She focuses her early weeks at college on trying new things, in order to shed her good girl persona.  Her roommate is Eliza, a loudmouthed, "edgy" sort of girl.  Then there's Tom, athlete turned artist, and his roommate Nick, a hippie who appreciates marijuana - a lot.  These four navigate the waters of living away from home together in residence.  Alongside their stories, is that of Adam and his younger sister Tragedy.  Adam is a day student who lives in the countryside near Dexter.  With the help of his outgoing high-school aged sister, Adam becomes involved in school and with the other students.  

This story is told in a strange sort of style.  At times the author addresses the reader, as if he or she is coming to college and experiencing its drama.  Other times, the author uses free indirect discourse to describe what is going on in the minds of her characters.  I usually love this style of narration, but found it to be "just okay" in this novel.  It's gets a bit confusing when the perspective jumps around in the same paragraph.  

The themes in this novel are very adult, especially coming from the author of the YA Gossip Girl series.  There is a lot of sex, drugs, and alcohol at Dexter College.  The events in the novel are super extreme.  It seemed like a bad soap opera to me for a while when I was reading it.  All at once, though, I stopped looking at it as a Sweet Valley University book on acid, and saw it for what it really was: a satire.  Once you figure that out, the book proves to be more enjoyable.  

Overall, I thought it was an alright book... nothing too challenging or thought-provoking.  And no real definitive ending for these characters. Read it and let me know what you think. 

♥ Meg xoxo

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