The book in one sentence: Four high school seniors on a road trip around America’s Garden of Ivy as they travel from college to college to ace those intimidating college interviews.
Who would you recommend it to: Teenagers – quite informational for something they might experience in the near future, and anyone who’s interested about college interviews and the American university system.
Best bits: The descriptions of the colleges, particularly when the characters take the college tour.
Boring bits: Sideplots of characters’ parents’ marital problems.
”Now then, baboons,” Professor Phinneas said. “For today I asked you to read T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘Burnt Norton,’ the first of the Four Quartets.”
“Burnt Norton.” He cleared his throat. “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future.” He paused for a moment and looked up at the class with a lost, discouraged expression. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re going: Haaaah? Like, Haaaah? Like, What’s he talking about? Well, baboons, let’s answer that question.
“Hey, I know that girl,” he said, pointing to someone outside.
He seemed to think some more.
“She was in this class, last year. I just saw her walk by. For that moment I was thinking about last year. For a moment I was transported to the past. It was like I was living there, and while I was there, this moment, here, now, with all of you, this was the future.”
The only review quote:
”Pretends to be about the elaborate ritual of choosing a college. What it’s really about is our universal fear that we’re not good enough – to go to college, to find a mate, to meet life’s challenges… Hilarious and wise.” – Richard Russo
Verdict: An okay read, it was disappointing to me that I couldn’t read about the other great Ivy League universities (the characters went for interviews at Yale and Harvard) despite the author’s statement that his description of the universities are not entirely based on fact. The characters are not generic, yet they still lack certain qualities that make them more human and often act out of character.