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Commencement
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2009
Status:
Checked Out
Description
The bestselling author of Maine brings us a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose. Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn't have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a "Riot: Don't Diet" T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikely friends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/16/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307271983
ASIN:
B002D9ZLMS
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

J. Courtney Sullivan. (2009). Commencement. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

J. Courtney Sullivan. 2009. Commencement. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

J. Courtney Sullivan, Commencement. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

J. Courtney Sullivan. Commencement. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • value: family
      • value: relationships
      • value: Friendship
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      • value: relationship
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      • value: activism
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      • value: Fiction
      • value: novels
      • value: Female friendship
      • value: Massachusetts
      • value: marriage
      • value: love
      • value: Coming of age
      • value: Death
      • value: love story
      • value: women
      • value: Short Stories
      • value: Drama
      • value: Women's Fiction
      • value: womens fiction
      • value: Divorce
      • value: Wedding
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      • value: literature
      • value: fiction books
      • value: Literary
      • value: realistic fiction
      • value: Smith College
      • value: gifts for women
      • value: relationship books
      • value: gifts for her
      • value: realistic fiction books
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      • fileAs: Sullivan, J. Courtney
      • bioText: J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Engagements and Maine. Maine was named a 2011 Time magazine Best Book of the Year and a Washington Post Notable Book. The Engagements was one of People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year, and has been translated into seventeen languages. She has contributed to The New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
      • name: J. Courtney Sullivan
imprint
Vintage
publishDate
2009-06-16T00:00:00-04:00
isOwnedByCollections
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title
Commencement
fullDescription
The bestselling author of Maine brings us a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose.

Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn't have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a "Riot: Don't Diet" T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikely friends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times
      • content: "One of the year's most inviting summer novels. . . . A smart, discerning book about school years. . . . Sullivan introduces strong, warmly believable three-dimensional characters who have fun, have fights and fall into intense love affairs. . . . Gloria Steinem likes Commencement. She ought to; the women of Commencement are big fans of hers."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Observer
      • content: "Wickedly sharp. . . . Ms. Sullivan's voice is funny and smart. . . . A fun, fresh . . . insightful read."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Offer[s] a witty take on the stereotypes of women's colleges, much as Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep did with elite boarding schools. . . . Sullivan's gifts are substantial."
      • premium: False
      • source: Entertainment Weekly
      • content: "Manages to find that sweet spot between Serious Literature and chick lit. Commencement is a beach book for smart women."
      • premium: False
      • source: Cookie magazine
      • content: "This story about four Smith College students and the paths they follow post-graduation celebrates friendship and explores modern-day feminism. At the same time, it's just a really devourable read--think a 2009 version of Mary McCarthy's The Group."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Onion's A.V. Club
      • content: "Commencement is much more than a novel about academia or young women. It's a thoughtful, engrossing study in lives transformed and relationships realigned, full of details and dilemmas that speak to a broad audience."
      • premium: False
      • source: Chicago Tribune
      • content: "Sullivan is a keen observer, with a wry sense of humor."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Boston Globe
      • content: "Garnering rave reviews. . . [Commencement] delves into the complex choices young women face today."
      • premium: False
      • source: Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms.
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Brave. . . . Sullivan . . . excels at close-up portraits. . . . A novel with so much verve."
      • premium: False
      • source: Elle (Winner of the Elle Readers Prize)
      • content: ­"Convincing and unique."
      • premium: False
      • source: BookPage
      • content: "Sullivan has honed in on so much of the utter anguish of adolescence and young adulthood. Her characters are brilliantly flawed, intensely realistic, thoroughly compassionate, and often incredibly funny."
      • premium: False
      • source: Dani Shapiro, author of Black & White
      • content: "Commencement is an accomplished, compulsively readable novel about the intricate bonds of female friendship. A literary page-turner at once entertaining and moving."
      • premium: False
      • source: Louisville Courier-Journal
      • content: "Sullivan's description of Smith's strange social mores are nuanced and precise, conveying with a refreshing sense of humor the challenges and frustrations that Smith brings while still making plain her deep love for the college. Women who read Commencement will undoubtedly feel a part of the sisterhood."
      • premium: False
      • source: Nicholas Kristof, nytimes.com
      • content: "I was deeply engaged by the characters and their complexity. . . . One of the differences between fiction and literature is that the latter thrives on layers of ambiguity and ambivalence, and in Commencement I see the launch of a literary career."
      • premium: False
      • source: Martha Moody, author of Best Friends and The Office of Desire
      • content: "Sullivan writes with a verve and ambition that makes the novel's four friends into real women, besieged--as real women are--by confusion, joy, and compromise. I enjoyed every page of Commencement."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 16, 2009
        It isn't quite love at first sight when Celia, Sally, Bree and April meet as first-year hall mates at Smith College in the late 1990s. Sally, whose mother has just died, is too steeped in grief to think about making new friends, and April's radical politics rub against Celia and Bree's more conventional leanings. But as the girls try out their first days of independence together, the group forms an intense bond that grows stronger throughout their college years and is put to the test after graduation. Even as the young women try to support each other through the trials of their early twenties, various milestones—Sally's engagement, Bree's anomalous girlfriend, April's activist career—only seem to breed disagreement. Things come to a head the night before Sally's wedding, when an argument leaves the friends seething and silent; but before long, the women begin to suspect that life without one another might be harder than they thought. Sullivan's novel quickly endears the reader to her cast, though the book never achieves the heft Sullivan seems to be striving for.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 15, 2009
        Four women meet at an all-female college and predictably remain constant allies as their lives unfold.

        Sullivan's unswervingly formulaic debut introduces Celia, April, Bree and Sally, united by their rooms on a shared hallway in King House at Smith. They instantly strike up enduring relationships despite their disparities. April, daughter of a radical single mother and the most overtly political, will later fall under the spell of a manipulative filmmaker. Bree, the Southern belle who arrives wearing an engagement ring, ends up an ambivalent lesbian with a lover named Lara. Celia, the most colorless, has a Catholic upbringing, aspires to write and gets a job at a minor Manhattan publisher. Neat-freak Sally, still grieving her mother's death, becomes the lover of a promiscuous professor of poetry but later marries happily, the ceremony reuniting the women four years after graduation. In among the boyfriends, confessions and aspirations, Sullivan tosses descriptions of Smith culture (lesbianism, food disorders), meditations on mothers and a strong dose of feminism. But the narrative is a monotone, rising to a few late peaks with Sally's pregnancy, Bree and Lara's break-up and an implausible development surrounding April, who disappears and is feared murdered during an investigation of child prostitution.

        Readable, but dated and lackluster.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2009
        Graduating from college and moving into the "real world" is a rite of passage for many people. For Celia, Bree, April, and Sally, it's bittersweet to leave the confines of Smith College, where they all met. As first years, they bonded not only because they were new but because they lived together in the worst rooms in King House, third-floor maids' quarters. Celia's a Catholic schoolgirl, April an angry young feminist, and Bree the Southern belle who is already engaged, while Sally has just lost her mother to cancer. Despite these differences, they become best friends, and what they share at Smith carries them into their later liveseven as they go on to very different realities. Sullivan's first novel is a coming-of-age tale of young women in contemporary society where some of the battles of the women's movement have been wonbut not all. The characters still face issues about sexuality, equality, and cultural expectations, and Sullivan's intriguing treatment partly refreshes the novel's familiar concept. For fans of contemporary women's fiction.Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 1, 2009
        Introducing feminist chick lit in the form of first-time novelist Sullivansdiverting parody of life at Smith College. WhenSally, Bree, April, and Celia meet during first-year orientation, they quickly bond as they navigate the tricky rules of their new home: no girl-on-girl showers before 10 a.m.; no meatin the dining hall unless it has a vegan sidekick; no (well, some) clothes during the opening convocation ceremony. As best friends, all their glories and foibles come to light, including Sallys lurid affair with an aging professor and Brees switch from straight to gay despite her familys frowning disapproval. All postcollege transitions are alsocaptured, fromone-night stands to grad schools, first jobs and first homes, a wedding and a baby. When April, the radical in the group, begins towork with her idol, a divisive feministknown for extreme tactics, a secondary plot about human trafficking emerges, switching the mood from nostalgia to suspense.Sullivans debutcrackles with intelligent observations about the inner sanctum of the all-womens elite (yet scholarship-laden) college life.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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The bestselling author of Maine brings us a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose.

Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn't have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a "Riot: Don't Diet" T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikely friends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.
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