Kitchener, who graduated from Princeton in 2014, reports on the experiences of five young women (including herself) in the first year out of college, a transition she likens to “leaving a pool and jumping into the ocean.” The women she profiles are all Princeton graduates, but they vary in their aspirations, values, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. These differences strengthen the threads of the narrative as Kitchener and her peers undergo major changes in their personal and professional lives. With a strong command of narrative, she draws on genuine moments of stress, such as breakups or familial strife, to keep readers interested while highlighting professional transformations and obstacles. One woman chooses to commit to her art; another prepares for medical school; others look to the start-up world for employment. Kitchener reports on topics such as sexual orientation, religion, dating culture, drug abuse, and depression, all of which the women deal with in turn. Kitchener excels at sprinkling the multiple story lines with statistics to add clarity and insight to a truly challenging stage of life. Her book is highly recommended for recent grads stumbling through their newfound independence. (Apr.)
Courageous...Strong, honest writing...An enlightening journey.
Caroline Kitchener and her Ivy League classmates may not be exactly typical of their generation, but they are certainly entertaining. Post-Grad will challenge many young college graduates to consider a much more diverse range of career paths.
Writing about a group of young women as they really are--and not as they are imagined by their parents, the media, or themselves--is an enormous challenge... Fascinating, at times disturbing, often moving, and always achingly honest.
There’s no prep course for how to cultivate one’s independent identity or how to simultaneously parse parental expectations, personal dreams, and reality’s limitations. Sincere, eloquent, and thorough, Kitchener’s debut is a must read.
The creativity and courage at the foundation of these stories is worth a thousand hours of counseling in any college career office. I will be giving this book as a gift to all of my graduating senior advisees.
Caroline Kitchener’s Post Grad is sharply written and incredibly timely. Now more than ever we need women’s stories to lead the way, and Kitchener does it marvelously.
Kitchener’s book...offer[s] n absorbing and introspective look at the challenges facing young women today as they attempt to find their footing on their own individual paths.
Carefully reported, empathetic.
These women [in Post Grad] defiantly contradict stereotypes, and Caroline does not reduce them to tokens. Post Grad reveals the complicated, painful, funny, messy, sometimes shocking, and entirely human journeys of young women with extraordinary educations.
Caroline Kitchener’s Post Grad is a book I wish had been published when I graduated from college and was floundering my way through my first year in the ‘real world.’
A must-read book for April.
And she is, without question, a talented writer. I read Post Grad in a single sitting . . . An engaging book.
Kitchener has the unique ability of being able to verbalize my every thought, feeling, and emotion regarding the experience of joining the ‘real world.’
Kitchener, herself a recent Princeton graduate, wants to be a writer — and she has done it. In Post Grad, along with detailing her own struggles, she burrows deep into the lives and psyches of four classmates. Her nonfiction narrative is intimate, compulsively readable and even occasionally shocking.
Recent college graduate Kitchener provides candid accounts of five women, including herself, as they navigate life after Princeton University. The author documents the trials and successes that this diverse group of individuals encounter during their first year away from the relative security and certainty of campus existence. Insights are provided on issues they face such as overcoming eating disorders, the implications of online hookups, and the pros and cons of pursuing graduate school. Particularly fascinating are the polyamorous relationships that are reported as commonplace among those interviewed. The author forthrightly details the ease with which couples welcome other sexual participants into their relationships. Also examined is the role of parents in each of these women's lives. Particularly, the grads struggle with how accepting continued family financial support affects their perceived growth and independence. Millennials are a hot topic, from HBO's Girls to works such as Alida Nugent's Don't Worry, It Gets Worse. VERDICT Kitchener's addition is an intelligent and thoughtful exploration of postcollege life that will strike a chord with young adults and those interested in future women of action. [See Prepub Alert, 10/31/16.]—Mary Jennings, Camano Island Lib., WA
Princeton graduate Kitchener turns a sociologist's eye on herself and four classmates, documenting their first year after college. The author, who is white, with well-off parents, occupies a somewhat privileged existence, which occasionally is reflected in her prose (for instance, she wistfully compares herself with feminist friends who are "heading out for a year alone to save orphans or trafficked women in rural Malaysia or Bangladesh"). However, she has made a laudable effort to follow a diverse group of women: Denise, the daughter of Cameroonian immigrants, who aspires to attend medical school despite doubts; Alex, a computer programmer whose Baptist parents refuse to accept that she is gay; Olivia, who forges her own path instead of taking over the lucrative family business back in Malaysia; and Michelle, a musician discovering that her true passion lies in the less than profitable but wholly fulfilling area of improvisational jazz. Blending her personal musings with more general observations about the experiences of twentysomethings, Kitchener unpacks a variety of issues faced by those making their first forays into adulthood: the struggle to break free from parents, the need to manage expectations (both one's own and others'), and the rewards and challenges of romantic relationships. Though lucid and accessible, the book feels more like long-form journalism than a more intimate memoir. However, its tendency to move quickly among the different individuals results in easy, absorbing reading. VERDICT Teens curious about what the future will bring will appreciate this thought-provoking look at the first year out of college.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Five women face emptiness and stress after they leave college.Kitchener graduated from Princeton in 2014 with no clear plans for her future. In her literary debut, she reflects on the first lonely and disorienting year after college based on her own experiences and those of four female classmates. Two are daughters of hugely wealthy parents; one has an extended family in Cameroon; one has been disowned by her father, a Southern Baptist minister, because she is gay; and Kitchener was raised in a Connecticut suburb. Although she is aiming at diversity, the women are privileged simply by virtue of their Ivy League degrees, and it is that privilege, and the oppressive, competitive "Princeton ladder mentality," that comes across strongly as Kitchener follows their lives from commencement to their first class reunion. All felt driven to climb ever higher on the ladder of success, and all felt wrenched from their community of peers and from the professors who praised and guided them. Suddenly, needing to make their own decisions, they felt woefully unprepared. "No one talks about the isolation, the identity crisis, or the all-consuming panic that sets in when you realize you have no idea what you want to do with the rest of your life and no one around to point you in the right direction," writes the author, who admits that her book "won't resonate with everyone," such as graduates who need to support themselves and those who are unconcerned about how classmates will judge their life choices. When one woman decided to go to medical school at Emory, she was desperately afraid Princetonians would criticize her "for not going to a more well-known school." Eventually, Kitchener sought psychological help. One woman found community in a church; another, who earned money by dating sugar daddies, tried psychedelic drugs. Love relationships for each were fraught, and Kitchener returns repeatedly to several women's attraction to polyamory: a primary lover along with less serious sexual relationships. Candid revelations that fail to inspire much empathy.