Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Commencement - J. Courtney Sullivan

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan; 2009 Vintage Contemporaries; p416; Women's Lit-Fiction

Commencement tells the story of four friendships told from each individual's perspective. The novel follows the lives of Celia, Bree, Sally and April who meet their first year at Smith college, an all women's school, an all to seemingly perfect backdrop to form their lasting bonds. Their first encounters occur like any another freshmen girl; homesick, lonely, and trying to find some normal ground on unfamilar terrain. At first their friendships seem to forms as a means of convenience, someone to walk to class or sit with in the cafeteria as their first appearances could have less in common with one another.

Eventually each girl learns that the others complement her in such a way that they come to find a new understanding of themselves and each other. As in any relationship, the friendships go through some strains; the girls live miles apart, Celia in New York, Bree in San Fransisco, their work and personal lives take tolls on their time, and soon the natural drift begins to take place.

Yet, the girls still and always will, retain the identity of who they were when they are a group, the unique persona that seems to appear only when they are together. Major milestones bring the girls together in times when they are needed the most, making their friendship something to be envied and admired. A shocking event will bring them closer than ever and forever change them.

Sullivan captures the essence of friendship with keen observation, evoking the rich rewards and also the trying time and endurance to face hard times. She does a wonderful job of capturing the true nature of awkward firsts and feelings of expectation and belonging. A quick summer read that will constantly remind you of what you love about your best friends.

Overall thoughts: A great summer read in the veins of The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, the Jessica Darling series that starts with Sloppy Firsts and others where women are finding who they truly are and what friendship means.

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