Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Uncommon Education; Ellizabeth Percer

Author:  Elizabeth Percer
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 4/24/2012
Rating: 3/5
Recommend: yes

An Uncommon Education is a coming of age novel which takes place around Boston, Massachusetts.  The protagonist, Naomi Feinstein is a brilliant young girl destined for greatness, as a young girl she absorbs everything around her and all that she reads. In school, her teacher goes so far as to to accuse her of cheating, but that's not the caset, she's just extremely bright.

"My father claims he made headway with me as a scholar during potty training. 'A captive audience for the first time in three years. What I read to you!'  When I was four he began to buy me notebooks and pencils the Tuesday after Labor Day; by the age of seven he was slipping standardized tests into my homework pile. For entertainment I was given such things as Infamous Women coloring books; Shakespeare's plays in comic book form; my own miniature Torah, the scroll which was covered in wavy black lines; historically correct figures of Clara Barton and Abigail Adams; math games made pretty with glass marbles; and a jump rope with a booklet of illustrated counting rhymes to accompany it.  In addition to our regular visits to the Kennedy home, every April 19th we drove to Lexington before dawn to witness the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord; every July 4th er walked the Freedom Trail."

A somewhat lonely child, Naomi's mother, is a somewhat distant woman who seems to be clinically depressed (later on the reader learns more about that).  She and her father, however, have a very special relationship, and they spend lots of quality time together. On one of their routine outings, Naomi's father suffers a heart attack, and although he survives and undergoes by-pass surgery.  It is at this point that she dreams of attending Wellesley College with intentions of becoming a doctor -- hoping to save her parents in the process.

As a child, Naomi's one real friend is Teddy Rosenthal, the odd young boy from next door.

" He was a terrific distraction from everything that felt full of holes: school, my mother, my father's heart.  We had invented a world; the universe has turned upside down and given us mastery over our lives.  We felt bold together, invincible, capable of doing anything and everything, and the more this feeling overcame us, the more time we spent together, so that almost every waking moment of our lives was either at school or in each other's company, both of us delighting in our imaginary worlds as we spun them out beneath us."

The adopted son of Jewish Orthodox parents, Teddy's mother does not like Naomi or her family. She calls her a "shiksa" and she doesn't want her son to associate with her.  When Teddy's father dies, his mother sells the house and the two of them move away to New Jersey just two weeks after. The friends miss each other terribly.

Up to this point, the story held my interest, and I was curious what else the author had in store.  However, once Naomi was accepted at Wellesley, the story seemed to fall apart a bit.  While at Wellesley, Naomi joins a Shakespeare Society, and develops a close relationship with a Japanese exchange student named Jun.  It is here at college that Naomi really begins to come to terms with who she is and the things that are most important to her. She finds out more about her old friend Teddy as well. Yes, it's all part of maturing and figuring out one's direction in life, but as far as making for a memorable novel, it just didn't happen for me.  In the end I was left disappointed.

I'll be curious to read what other reviewers had to say about this novel.


  1. It sounds like this one started out strong but faded out. I do love a good coming of age story so I'd like to give this one a try.

  2. Tiy have a lovely blog, I have really enjoyed reading it. My cat, now gone:( Decided once he was going to bring in a live chipmunk!!!! At least I can say he didn't get the job done, caught him just in time! LOL He just looked at me like "what is wrong with you?? We could have such fun".
    teddy bear

  3. The cover and the title of this book keep on sucking me in, and then I read a mixed review and I put off putting it on my TBR shelf. The Shakespeare society element appeals to me, though, so I might give it a go.

    Thanks for the review--mixed ones are always the hardest, I think.

  4. It's a shame it bombed out just when it was getting good.

  5. I had hoped this one would be great, but it sounds like it was only average, and like it really fell apart during the second half. I really appreciated your well balanced and thoughtful review, as I had been considering grabbing this one. Now I am not so sure...

  6. I'm eager to read this one, and after your review I'm curious if our opinions would line up on this one or not. I hope to find time for it soon.

  7. I've been anticipating reading this one for a while. I can't wait to see if I agree with you that it's a bit of disappointment, hopefully not!

  8. It sounds like the author just tried to go off in too many directions. I'd have to read it and see what I think of it but your review makes me think I can put it a little further down my list for now.

  9. I have no desire to read this one. I'm not really sure why. I may be confusing this one with another book.


Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thanks again for visiting.