From Left to Write asks reviewers to connect the book of the month with their personal experiences. Accordingly, this is not a traditional book review, but rather, my response to this month’s selection. Find out more here.
I received an advance copy of Bittersweet for free, but I was not compensated in any way for my review. My comments are my own. This book is available for purchase here.
However, after spending the first year together in the same room, Ev starts behaving more kindly towards Mabel, acting like her own fairy godmother. The story really begins when Ev convinces Mabel to spend the summer at her extraordinarily wealthy family's summer estate.
The family has more dark secrets than Mabel can keep count of, and she begins to understand that she was terribly mistaken to choose Ev and people like her as role models for her own reinvention.
How Do You "Be Yourself"?
However, every fall students - including myself - arrive to campus susceptible to losing a sense of what makes you you.
It seemed like every girl in my dorm had gotten the memo on how to dress, act around boys, where to socialize, what to spend money on, and how talk except for me.
I didn't own any shiny beaded low-cut tops for going out. Actually, I couldn't figure out what the heck "going out" meant for the longest time. Going where? WHERE IS OUT?
I didn't understand the college nightlife milieu, where mass migrations of girls in heels and guys wearing button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled up, starting moving across campus around 10pm in search of a dorm party.
Why was the student center Burger King a cool place to hang out?
Why did girls call each other "bitch," "slut," and "whore" like it was some term of endearment?
But I was passing. And I was invited to do more things with the girls. So I went.
One night, my neighbor popped her head in. "Come over!" she insisted. "We're hanging out with some guys."
"I don't know..." I stalled.
"We're just playing poker. Come on."
I got up and followed her into her room. A couple of very happy looking guys introduced themselves. We started playing.
After one of the girls lost a round, she removed a necklace. "Good thing I wore lots of layers!" she joked.
Another girl protested, "No fair - a necklace doesn't count! It has to be an article of clothing!"
Oh. Holy cow. I just walked into a game of strip poker.
Well, I reasoned with myself, it's all in fun. That girl just took off her sock. It's fine.
But the uncomfortable feeling I had, like I wasn't supposed to be there - that this wasn't MY idea of fun - wouldn't leave.
So I left. It occurred to me as I made my excuses and got up to go, everybody in the room looked kind of miserable. It was forced fun, which is never very much fun at all.
It's normal for people to grow and change over time. But it's not normal for other people to make you feel like you need to hurry up and change right NOW in order to be accepted.
If you or a student you know is off to college in the fall, remember this: college is a great time for a do-over. Just make sure you know why and for whom you are changing.