An Uncommon Education

An Uncommon Education

3.7 7
by Elizabeth Percer
     
 

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For fans of Prep, Dead Poets Society, and Special Topics in Calamity Physics comes an elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut, in which a young woman’s serendipitous discovery of her college’s underground Shakespeare Society leads to an unforgettable series of transformations. When Naomi finds herself among “the

Overview

For fans of Prep, Dead Poets Society, and Special Topics in Calamity Physics comes an elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut, in which a young woman’s serendipitous discovery of her college’s underground Shakespeare Society leads to an unforgettable series of transformations. When Naomi finds herself among “the Shakes” at Wellesley, she finally lets herself embrace the passionate inner self she’s always kept locked away. But when a sudden scandal unfolds, she will be forced to learn the limits of the relationships that have sustained her. An intimate and enthralling narrative, Elizabeth Percer’s debut novel An Uncommon Education marks the emergence of a stunning new literary talent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Poet Percer's fiction debut is an intimate portrait of an intelligent, tender girl with a deep wish to protect those she loves. With a depressed mother and an ailing father, Naomi Feinstein found comfort and peace in her only friend: Teddy. But when he disappears from her life when she is 15-years-old, Naomi is devastated. To distract herself from the loss, Naomi dives into her studies, desperate to get into Wellesley College and become a cardiac surgeon, a dream she's had since age eight when she witnessed her adored father suffer a near-fatal heart attack. Naomi is finally accepted at Wellesley, and she arrives with the hopes of finally having a social life, but finds herself awash in loneliness. When she rescues a fellow student from a freezing lake, the heroic act opens the doors to the clandestine Shakespeare Society, an exclusive all-women group with a passion for Shakespeare and secret rituals. It is within "Shakes" that Feinstein begins to let go of her past and form new friendships. But with these new relationships, Naomi finds herself entangled in a scandal, just as her understanding of her past comes crashing down around her. (May)
Oprah.com
“[Naomi demonstrates] how to make the kinds of choices that eventually lead to an uncommon but joy-filled life.”
New York Times Book Review
“Enticing and shyly perceptive.”
New York Post
“Think Dead Poet’s Society or The Secret History.”
Hudson Valley News
“A fine novel and a young writer to watch.”
San Jose Mercury News
“A wistful debut novel by noted Bay Area poet.”
Booklist
“Percer’s lyrical novel has much to offer.”
New York Journal of Books
“Elizabeth Percer relates the life story of Naomi Feinstein with beautifully scripted, lush prose drawing in the reader and providing an unobstructed view deep into the hearts of her characters. . . . Rich in history, steeped in family tradition, and full of emotion—a lesson in practiced elegance.”
J. Courtney Sullivan
“A moving and bittersweet coming-of-age story about love, loss, friendship, ambition, and the power of memory. This complex and satisfying tale introduces a cast of quirky, hilarious, intellectual young women, struggling to find their place in the world.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Eloquent, haunting and exquisitely written, Percer’s stunning debut finds surprising beauty in the broken places of our lives. Here, winning can’t mute pain, but love endures despite the odds, and the education of a remarkable young woman is as uncommonly original as this novel itself.”
Lauren Belfer
“Haunting and poignant, Elizabeth Percer’s coming-of-age novel portrays a bright young woman confronting her limits as she watches those she loves deal with illness and betrayal. Each turn of this elegiac debut revealed stark truths that left me both moved and astonished.”
Nicole Mones
“It’s impossible not to care about Naomi Feinstein . . . An Uncommon Education beautifully [brings] Naomi to the Bard (the play’s the thing), but also gives the reader something much rarer—a world, and a life, that seem real.”
Library Journal
Smart but a little anxious—her father, an émigré from Israel, suffers from poor health; her mother, who converted to Judaism, is distant and clinically depressed; and her best friend's mother disapproves of her—Naomi Feinstein has one ambition. She wants to attend Wellesley College, not far from the Boston suburb where she lives but a world away, a shining, splendid city where her intellect will unfold lushly like a flower. Yet when she finally arrives, she suddenly feels dislocated among the campus's glassy, glossy, relentlessly assured young women. Only slowly does she find herself again, as she joins the Shakespeare Society, whose members perform the Bard's plays and nurture complex relationships, and forges a special friendship with a former tennis rival. What really matures her is a terrible moment of betrayal and her determinedly reengaging with her parents, and it's astonishing to see how Naomi readjusts her self-image and emerges whole. VERDICT Three-time Pushcart nominee Percer offers an uncommonly good debut that's finely detailed and emotionally gripping while avoiding every pitfall of the standard coming-of-age tale. Highly recommended.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Bonds of love, family and friendship, sometimes damaged or beyond repair, are nevertheless celebrated in an intense debut by a noted poet. Naomi Feinstein, the misfit child of misfit parents--an orphaned immigrant Jewish father and a depressed Catholic mother--grows up clever but lonely in Brookline, Mass., convinced by her father's heart attack that her destiny lies in cardiac medicine. Friendship with Teddy, the boy next door, turns into an early but enduring love. However Teddy moves away, leaving Naomi alone once more while still questing for a closer relationship with her troubled mother. Accepted at Wellesley College, Naomi leaves home only to find that college life is just as solitary until a sudden act of heroism on her part leads to acceptance by the Shakespeare Society and friendships, notably with a privileged Japanese girl, Jun Oko. Although Naomi's insularity becomes somewhat diminished, darker events will swallow three of the people she cares most about, and the largest lesson she must learn is that she cannot save any of them. Her efforts to do so and eventual emergence from sadness are charted with restraint and empathy in Percer's lyrical, slightly dreamy narrative. A subdued, thoughtful coming-of-age tale that hovers observantly on the edge of melancholia.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062110961
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.18(d)

What People are saying about this

Lauren Belfer
“Haunting and poignant, Elizabeth Percer’s coming-of-age novel portrays a bright young woman confronting her limits as she watches those she loves deal with illness and betrayal. Each turn of this elegiac debut revealed stark truths that left me both moved and astonished.”
J. Courtney Sullivan
“A moving and bittersweet coming-of-age story about love, loss, friendship, ambition, and the power of memory. This complex and satisfying tale introduces a cast of quirky, hilarious, intellectual young women, struggling to find their place in the world.”
Nicole Mones
“It’s impossible not to care about Naomi Feinstein . . . An Uncommon Education beautifully [brings] Naomi to the Bard (the play’s the thing), but also gives the reader something much rarer—a world, and a life, that seem real.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Eloquent, haunting and exquisitely written, Percer’s stunning debut finds surprising beauty in the broken places of our lives. Here, winning can’t mute pain, but love endures despite the odds, and the education of a remarkable young woman is as uncommonly original as this novel itself.”

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Percer is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has twice been honored by the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received a BA in English from Wellesley and a PhD in arts education from Stanford University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship for the National Writing Project at UC Berkeley. She lives in California with her husband and three children. All Stories Are Love Stories is her second novel.

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An Uncommon Education: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 7 reviews.
elabenSS More than 1 year ago
A unique and extremely fulfilling reading experience. What an incredible book! There are passages where you have to pause, digest, process and luxuriate in the perfection of the language. This is a beautiful coming of age story of a middle-class woman with the extraordinary capacity to realize both the expectations and possibilities of her parents' hopes and dreams. Naomi's Wellesley experience is poignantly articulated and the final outcome of her choices both hopeful and uncertain. Percer has an uncanny ability to capture the nuances of the emotional journey in a coming of age journey. Truly outstanding. I can't wait for her next novel.
EdenRW More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing novel. The writing was so beautiful and the story of Naomi was incredibly moving. You have to read this!! I just found out this is her first novel but she is a poet, which doesn't surprise me. This is a new novels you will recognize as fine literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's so poorly written. Where were the editors when all the bad grammar was being thrown around? It reads like a high school creative writing project. Red marks for the many sentences ending with prepositions, the unidentified pronoun use, the banal metaphors.... and so and and so on. Ms. Percer needs to order and read a good writers handbook.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate to reach the end of a book and realize hours were spent waiting for something...anything exciting to happen and it never does. I was very disappointed in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific meaty read, worth a second reading to savor