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madbkwm

madbkwm

An Uncommon Education - Elizabeth Percer I liked this book because it was a different perspective on a fairly common coming-of-age story. I've encountered lots of boys only schools with private elite societies (and their bacchanalian parties), but I have yet to read one about girls. The writing was generally good and there were some real moments; however I was not convinced by Naomi's motivations. I found her character to be less than believable at times.

Most importantly, I did not understand Naomi's devotion to her mother. Her father is the one who takes care of her and forms her, but she is obsessed with trying to save (and care for) her mother. The depressed woman who withholds not only emotion but all information and love is the one to whom Naomi is devoted. She decides to be a cardiologist after her father's heart attack and Teddy's father's death; but ultimately she can only find the motivation to care for and then study her mother's disease. This really felt like a stretch.

I felt like Percer just really wanted to create a parallel between the ridiculous father/son relationships that we typically see in these sorts of coming of age books (rebellious son or the son who is trying his hardest to impress the unimpressable father) and Naomi and her mother. It was just that the whole relationship felt under-developed. I did not believe that Naomi could or should care so much about her mother.

Simultaneously, Jun and her father were an almost perfect representation of the father/son roll. I liked the way that Percer developed these two and Jun's understanding of her lack of importance as an individual (she was just a cog in the machine of Oko Industries).

I thought the stolen historical stuff was a bit much and unnecessary. Certainly there is the a parallel between the thefts (important and life changing events for Naomi: her father's heart attack and her first night with Jun are marked by these items) and the way that each are discovered in the end by their real owners, but I thought it was way too unbelievable that the museum curator ended up having given the docs to Naomi.

I wasn't sure about the character names; I thought all the symbolism was a bit overdone and that the names were all outdated (Naomi, Ruth, Phyllis).

Overall it was an interesting point of view (and one I have not seen done from a girl's perspective), but it was not very compelling and I felt like some of the plot fell flat.

A few good quotes below:

"It can be dangerous to look forward too much, to think always of what should be instead of accepting what is."

"So much of schoolwork is designed to please both the student and the teacher, a way for lovers whose shared passion is knowledge to exchange promises. But either party will grow nervous if the other is inattentive."

"I read once that men are the only ones who ever really fall in love. That women don't. That they only love to be loved."