"Take Mary McCarthy's The Group, add a new feminist generation striving to understand everything from themselves and their mothers to the notion of masculinity that fuels sex trafficking, and you get this generous-hearted, brave first novel. Commencement makes clear that the feminist revolution is just beginning."
What's a blog without a good ol' book review every now and then? Now that the semester is over, it's summer, and I've had a little bit more free-time on my hands, I've finally gotten around to finishing J. Courtney Sullivan's debut novel, Commencement. I really enjoyed this book, it's a great and easy summer read that also manages to have a moving storyline and important message. It has a very different feel to it from the typical "chick lit" (a term that I despise, might I add) that most of us are used to. This is not another romance novel focused solely on attractive men and the women who are desperate to find them and get married, not at all, this novel thankfully goes a lot deeper then that. This is a novel about young feminists, everlasting sisterhood, and the choices and challenges that face women today; from the small stuff like whether or not to change your last name when getting married, to the much bigger problems like rape and sex trafficking, this novel seems to cover it all.
The novel follows Celia, Bree, Sally, and April, classmates their first year at Smith College who couldn't be more different. Alone and together, they soon learn that Smith is a hothouse: of sexual discovery, political activism, female bonding, and carbohydrates eaten with abandon. And although several years after graduation they live far apart, their Smith years have left them fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they must decide how it all applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex.
The deep sense of sisterhood in this book had to be my favorite part about it. Reading this novel makes you truly appreciate your female best friends, or if you don't have any, long for girls you can care for that much and be that close to. J. Courtney Sullivan does such a great job of describing the girls, that throughout reading the novel you really feel as if you are friends with them! I found myself worrying about them when things went wrong, and then happy for them when it all went right again. Finishing the novel is somewhat bittersweet, because the ending leaves you hanging a bit, and you miss hearing about what's going on in each of the girls lives.
I definitely recommend this novel to all who enjoy books about feminism and sisterhood, but also just to anyone looking for a good, moving, summer read. The novel starts out a little slow, but then there is a big twist halfway through that will keep you interested and have you staying up late just to get to the next page. I plan on reading more books by J. Courtney Sullivan in the near future, I really enjoy her writing now.
You can find out where to buy the book, as well as more on J. Courtney Sullivan and Commencement here.