It’s time to head back to school, even my alma mater is starting classes today, so I thought this would be a good time to finally post my thoughts on J. Courtney Sullivan’s debut novel Commencement.
Commencement is the story of four friends, April, Sally, Celia and Bree, who navigate their way through finding themselves as they start college (in this case, Smith, which also happens to be Ms. Sullivan’s alma mater) and discovering who they really are once they graduate.
I was going to write a little description of each character, but as I think about them, I can’t think of just one phrase to sum up each of these women, they are so multi-dimensional, and that is what I think made this book such an enjoyable read for me. I found myself able to relate to each of the characters for some trait they held, but they also had something about them that was foreign to me that I wanted to read and know more. There was not one I said, “oh, she is my favorite” or one that I didn’t like at all. They all had their virtues, and they each certainly had their own personal flaws.
The story begins with a wedding, or at least the travels back to Smith College for Sally’s wedding to the sweet, loveable man that Sally’s three friends fear isn’t good enough for her. As we build to the wedding, we also travel to the past to see how their friendship grew over their four years as housemates.
Of course, there must be drama – and this book provides it. The night before the wedding tests their friendship and the rest of the novel explores the paths they take – with and away from each other.
I won’t say too much else, as I don’t want to be leading or spoil anything. I will say that I wasn’t thrilled with where some parts of this book went in the end. But overall because of the characters themselves, and the fun of watching them develop while they were in college, I walked away from this book happy I read it, and looking forward to what Sullivan may write next.
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan