Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

A quartet of unlikely best friends deal with a post-feminist, post-grad life out of Smith College.

The appeal of Commencement is in its depiction of Smith College, caught between poles of conservative femininity and radical lesbianism. Each of the four protagonists deals with life issues that have something to do with the plight of the modern women. Their struggles are portrayed with nuance and pathos, but I wondered if the story would have resonated had it been set in a less idiosyncratic place. Only one of the characters–April–really differentiated herself from the other three, who, apart from their differing circumstances, didn’t seem to be all that different. I enjoyed the read but it didn’t blow me away.

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