Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Books I've Read: Enter Title Here
This is one of those unique books where the protagonist is totally unlikable, yet the book is so compelling I couldn't put it down.
Reshma Kapoor is an over-achiever. Even worse, she's a competitive over-achiever. She has her whole life planned out to the nth degree and knows exactly what she needs and how to get those things.
So when she decides she needs some kind of extra help to strengthen her Stanford application, she lands a literary agent and starts writing a novel.
The problem is, all Reshma has ever done is study and connive her way to the top rank in her class. She realizes that to write a novel, she'll need more life experience so she sets off to make a friend, get a boyfriend and figure out a satisfying character arc for herself.
As she writes the book and attempts to find experiences outside her own narrow world of studying and the 'right' extra-curriculars, Reshma's hard-won top ranking starts to slip and she has to decide what she will do to hold onto it, how far she'll go.
Reshma is a wholly unlikable character. She's selfish, self-absorbed and will go to ruthless lengths to get what she wants. It's pretty clear from the start that the reason she has no friends is because of her single-mindedness. She will literally stop at nothing to be the top student. Even if it means suing the school. Twice.
Her parents are not a lot of help either. I feel like the mother wanted things to be different, but was too busy with her own job to focus enough attention on Reshma. Especially since her own background demanded that she study hard to succeed.
So I'm not sure I enjoyed this book that much -- it was a little like watching a train wreck unfold before your eyes -- but it was certainly memorable.
But don't just believe me. Here's the blurb:
I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.
Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What's a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent's help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she's already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)