Arriving at her dorm for her freshmen year of college, Cecily decides she’s just not ready, turns around, and goes home. What follows is a year off, bumming around at home and wondering if she’s a freak because she didn’t do what was expected of her like everyone else did.
I was attracted to this novel because I did a gap year between high school and college, going on a year exchange program to Ecuador. Gap years are a great way to get to know yourself better and give yourself a break between the pressures of high school and the pressures of college. You can travel, volunteer, get a job to save up money for college, or take up any number of interesting activities.
Cecily did nothing. NOTHING. That’s why I’m surprised I was not bored out of my skull reading about her year off. You see, even though Cecily lacks drive, she can banter with the best of them and the writing sparkles with subtle, sly humor. She banters with her father (resigned to Cecily’s inertia), her siblings (envious that she can get away with doing nothing as the baby of the family), her shrink, her career councilor, her best friend (increasing distant and slutty as her year at college progresses) and best of all with sort of crush but not really Mike (who should’ve had more scenes).
The novel touches a lot on the expectations and motivations associated with the college years, and Mike’s story added another unconventional choice to the mix. Here’s a charming, well-liked young man who impresses everyone by being accepted to Harvard and then “throws it all away” by transferring to the University of Kansas mid-year to be with his girlfriend. Even though Mike mistakenly calls KU by the initials UK, I was still pleased to see KU’s battle cry “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” in a YA novel. Never thought I’d see the day.
AN OFF YEAR comes out September 3rd in hardcover. Visit the author’s website. Even though I couldn't find anything about this upcoming release, the writing on the site is very funny and gives you a good idea of the kind of humor you get in the novel.