An Uncommon Education: Book summary and reviews of An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

An Uncommon Education

A Novel

by Elizabeth Percer

An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer X
An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
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  • Published in USA  May 2012
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Afraid of losing her parents at a young age - her father with his weak heart, her deeply depressed mother - Naomi Feinstein prepared single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. An outcast at school, Naomi loses herself in books, and daydreams of Wellesley College. But when Teddy, her confidant and only friend, abruptly departs from her life, it's the first devastating loss from which Naomi is not sure she can ever recover, even after her long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness - until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. Naomi finally begins to detach from the past and so much of what defines her, immersing herself in this exciting and liberating new world and learning the value of friendship. But her happiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings irrevocable consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but part of growing up is learning that sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

An Uncommon Education is a compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations. Poignant and wise, it artfully captures the complicated ties of family, the bittersweet inevitability of loss, and the importance of learning to let go.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bonds of love, family and friendship, sometimes damaged or beyond repair, are nevertheless celebrated in an intense debut by a noted poet... [A] thoughtful coming-of-age tale that hovers observantly on the edge of melancholia." - Kirkus Reviews

"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." - J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Maine and Commencement

"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." - Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

"Percer's lyrical novel has much to offer." - Booklist

"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." - Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light

"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." - Nicole Mones, author of Lost in Translation and The Last Chinese Chef

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Author Information

Elizabeth Percer

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. An Uncommon Education is her first novel.

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