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Commencement: Part 1…

October 17, 2010

I am so behind on the Bookend Blogger’s book club that I debated not even posting my answers, but I had so much to say that I wanted to get thoughts out there so I could keep up for Part 2.

1. Which girl do you identify the most with?

Right off the bat I thought I was going to identify most with Bree – she was engaged to her high school boyfriend, from the south and she had big plans.  But then she started revealing that she was a lesbian and, well obviously I think that’s where our similarities ended.

I think that I identify with Celia the most right now.  She isn’t married and she lives in New York City but she seems to be pretty honest and like a lot of fun. I love that she’s the secretary of the class and gets to find out everyone’s gossip for the newsletter (obviously this book takes place pre-facebook!).

2. If you’re a college student or graduate, what similarities or differences do you see between this story to your own college experience?

This is where the book started to mean something to me and I will probably do a post one day on how I chose my college for freshman year and my honest thoughts on it, but for the purpose of this question I will tell you that Smith seemed so parallel to my own experiences!

The odd traditions that you can’t explain to other people, the living arrangements, the way people dress for class, the hall meetings and the amazing feeling of NOT missing boys on campus everyday.  We didn’t show up to an opening day ceremony in our underwear but we did organize by class and by hall. My college freshman year was very open to the “nontraditional” student and being “open” was very common.

I didn’t love the dining hall food so I didn’t gain weight like the girls in the book until I got to State. I continued to wear actual clothes with shoes to class unlike many girls in my 8 am French class.  We had a lounge in our building and a guard at the gate.

My freshman year experience was sheltered just enough to help me grow and figure out what I wanted to do/ be and I feel like that’s the biggest similarity between me and these Smithies.

3. Which girl do you think has changed the most since her time in college? In what ways has she changed?

It’s hard to say if any of them have changed drastically SINCE college – most of their big changes happened to them IN college. Bree discovered that she was lesbian and has since started living with her girlfriend. April was into radial feminist issues and now works in that field getting into dangerous situations with an extremist. Sally is getting married and having a chance to start a family after loosing her own.  And Celia is working and having a good time.

It was like their time at Smith groomed them to be who they are out in the “real world.” I do think that they are different people then they thought they’d be – Sally had wanted to be a doctor, and I think Bree imaged her self married to Doug in GA – not gay in California.


This was one of those books that I jumped into without knowing anything about it.  I was super surprised it was about friends talking about their experiences at a women’s college. I went to a women’s college for my freshman year and even though I didn’t graduate from there I had a lot of really unique experiences. I met great girls and learned more about my self then calculus but ultimately I did transfer.

I think so far the best way to explain the book is to use a quote that the author used in the final chapter of Part 1: Any good drama or tragedy is like a ball of yarn, made up of so many stands piled one upon another. You should be able to unwind the ball, to see every bit, right down to the start.

To me that explains this book’s style too; the girls’ stories are slowly unwinding starting with the present tense and weaving through each others own stories. Through each experience we get to learn a little bit about where each girl comes from, her specific experiences and when it all reaches a head in the dining hall that night before Sally’s wedding. The way Sullivan unravels the “ball of yarn” definitely keeps me interested and wondering about what experiences are yet to come.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 10:17 am

    I want to participate in the book club so badly, but somehow the schedule doesn’t ever seem to work with me. I started the first book, but went on vacation and wasn’t able to post. With this book, I forgot to check back to see what the book was and they already started. Maybe the third time is the charm!

  2. October 18, 2010 1:27 pm

    I’m so glad you caught up with the book club–just in time for the second part of questions to be posted. :) I can’t wait to read your answers for the second part. :)


  1. Commencement: Part 2… « Oui, Bien Sur!

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