An Off Year Review

An Off Year
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I'm not really the young-adult demographic anymore, being more than a couple of years post-college. But good writing is good writing, and this is some good writing.
Before I read the book, I actually wondered if I would find Cecily annoying. "Wah, wah. You don't want to go to college. Poor baby." Instead I quickly found someone who I recognized from when I was that age, except Cecily has the courage to actually say, "Wait a minute! I don't really know what's going on here!" instead of just going with the flow and doing "what people do" after they graduate from high school. Zulkey's use of the other people in Cecily's life to illuminate the normalcy of that unease felt authentic, not contrived. All of the characters are so well-developed that I found myself able to like something about each of them, even the ones who are frequent sources of Cecily's frustration. There are no "throw-away" characters in this novel. The author's attention to detail and careful crafting of Cecily's trajectory through this year makes every moment count.
I loved this story. I loved the honesty with which Zulkey allowed her characters to discuss the college experience, and I especially loved the sense of humor that was present throughout. I'm planning on sending it to some important people in my life who are right around Cecily's age, and if my friends closer to my age are lucky, I'll share it with them, too!

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