Penelope

In the July before school started, Penelope Davis O’Shaunessy, an incoming Harvard freshman of average height and lank hair, filled out a survey about what type of roommate she was looking for.

Who recommended this to me? When? Where and how did I find it and felt like I absolutely had to read this? Yes, this is another one of the To Read list. And while I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t know if I would recommend it.

You see, everyone involved in this story is annoying, awkward, embarrassing, cloyingly sweet, a fool or all of the above at the same time. It was full of recognizable thoughts and situations, and it probably depends on the age and mindset of the reader to motherhen-ish cluck over these poor fools or grow incredibly frustrated by them. I swapped between both on quite a regular basis.

Penelope is a freshman, an asocial one with no clue about her place in the world, how social interaction and other people work. She tries, because her mother wants it and because she doesn’t understand how it can be so tasking if so many manage. But even when trying, she floats, she stumbles, she’s a wallflower of existence.

That makes the story weird and uncomfortable and sometimes really funny. Does Penelope need a kick in the ass, a hug, or both? Will she grow out of it or do adults like her exist? It’s like fairytale on humanity: these oddballs are here.

Penelope, Rebecca Harrington, Vintage Books 2012

 

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