“My Education” by Susan Choi: Review and Giveaway

FTC Disclaimer:  I received an advance copy of “My Education” by Susan Choi from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions herein are my own.

“My Education” by Susan Choi is the story of a young woman’s poor sexual decisions and their impact on her life.  Regina Gottleib is a 21-year-old graduate student.  She’s young, naive, and inexperienced, and begins taking classes with Professor Nicholas Brodeur, whose reputation as a womanizer precedes him.  Brodeur mentors Regina until she begins an affair with his wife.  The story is broken into two main sections, one highlighting the affair itself, and then a flash forward to Regina’s life over a decade later.

When I first began reading, I found the language to be strange, because grad students don’t talk the way that Regina narrates her story.  She uses academic language to describe mundane crushes and events.  As the story progressed, the writing style grew on me, as it served to contrast the young Regina and the woman that she later becomes.  It shows that even though she was kind of an ass in school, she matured and was able to become a productive member of society.

The hedonism and decadence portrayed in “My Education” remind me a lot of “The Great Gatsby,” even though the books are set in different time periods.   Don’t let the sound of the plot put you off, even though much of the book is about a drunk college student behaving selfishly.  Susan Choi is the type of writer who can take a scene about a college student vomiting at a party and make it beautiful.  The plot itself is secondary to the expressiveness of the writing.  One doesn’t read “Lolita” because of the subject matter, but rather because of Nabokov’s masterful prose and his ability to create complex characters who challenge readers’ perceptions and expectations.  “My Education” is similar in that the narrator doesn’t view her actions as wrong.  She feels justified in breaking up Nicholas and Martha’s marriage, and believes that she is really in love with Martha.  At the same time, it’s painfully obvious that Martha is a volatile character who views Regina as a temporary amusement and will eventually become bored with her.

There’s only one thing about the book that I would change.  I wish that Regina’s character were a year or two older.  When she celebrates her 21st birthday, I became a bit distracted by her age, because generally one turns 21 in undergrad.  She would have had to have skipped a grade in school or graduated early from undergrad, but that wasn’t made clear in any way.  I realize it’s a very minor point to nitpick, but I’m prone to over analyzing details like that.

“My Education” is a vivid portrayal of lust, decadence, and regret.  I’d highly recommend it.

And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for… GIVEAWAY!  The publisher has agreed to sponsor a giveaway of the book.  The giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only and will be open until 11:59 pm on July 16.

You can ENTER HERE.

I’m going to try the whole Rafflecopter thing this time and see how I like it.  Rafflecopter doesn’t work on WordPress.com blogs, so I’m working around it by having it live on my blog’s Facebook page instead.  Let me know if you have any input on whether this is better/worse than me drawing from a hat.

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on ““My Education” by Susan Choi: Review and Giveaway

  1. Pingback: Giveaway Winner | Books Without Any Pictures

  2. Roger Chan

    Hey, I am 1/6 through the book and I find it rather boring. But I intend on soldiering through. Also, On page 35 Regina says she has always been a year younger than her classmates. So, Regina probably had a late birthday, and her parents still sent her to school a year before usual.

    • Sorry to hear you’re not enjoying it. Hopefully it’ll start picking up for you.

  3. Been seeing some great buzz over this one – really want to give it a shot!

  4. I heard a review of this one on NPR — I’m glad you reviewed it because I was looking for a second opinion. 🙂
    I think I was a year ahead and turned 21 ten days before graduating from undergrad, so I was 21 and 22 in grad school. I think this would put me in the group that wouldn’t notice the age thing!

    • Thanks! I know it’s such a little thing for me to have been annoyed about, especially since overall the book was so good. 🙂

  5. I would also get stuck on the finer detail. I wouldn’t be able to help myself – I’d be thinking (1) either the author doesn’t realise what age this person should really be or (2) she’s forgotten to put the explanation in the book because it was something she had in her head or maybe it got cut – even so I’d then be thinking about that!
    Sounds like a good read. Not entirely sure whether it’s for me but I might keep it in mind in case I see it around. The writing certainly sounds like something that would make this worthwhile regardless of the story.
    Thanks
    Lynn ;D

    • It was such a little thing, and it was the only thing about the book that bothered me. And yes, I knew people in undergrad who were younger, but there was always a story, like someone skipping a couple grades because they were really smart.

      I did enjoy the fact that Regina had an affair with an older woman rather than an older man. It seemed like a nice play on stereotypes, even though I wanted to knock some sense into the main characters. Overall, it was a very good read. 😛

  6. It sounds like a great story. Thanks for the giveaway. Happy Reading everyone! 🙂

  7. What an interesting story line. But I too would get hung up on the character turning 21 years old in grad school. You can’t even enter Law School until you are 21 and then my mind would wonder back to law school and that horrible experience and then… I would be taken out of the book. LOL

    • I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t always been one of the younger people in my class. I turned 21 during my senior year of undergrad. It was distracting–I’m the kind of person who will do the math in my head and wonder how she got so far so early. At the same time, it does explain (somewhat) Regina’s lack of maturity.

      • I do find it interesting how authors decide to age someone in relation to the time frame of the story line.

  8. Sounds like an interesting take. usually you see the young woman fall for an older man. I like that she falls for a woman–not that I believe people should get involved with married people. Too bad I’m out of the States.

    • One of these days I need to host an international giveaway.

      The premise for this was unique. When I started reading, I expected the affair to be with the professor, not his wife, and the way that it was framed, it seemed to surprise the protagonist that she’d fallen for Martha.

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