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Commencement: A Novelby J. Courtney Sullivan
Synopses & Reviews
SMITH ALUMNAE QUARTERLY
Spring 2006 Class Notes
CLASS OF '02
Robin Hughes graduates from Northwestern this May with a master's in public health. She lives in Chicago with fellow Hopkins House alum Gretchen (Gretch) Anderson . . . Natalie Goldberg (Emerson House) and her partner Gina Black (class of '99) have finally realized their dream of moving to Finland and opening a karaoke bar So far, they say, Emersonians Emma Bramley-Hawke and Joy Watkins have already stopped in for several verses of Total Eclipse of the Heart. . . After four years of working in a health clinic in her native Malaysia, Jia-Yi Moa has been accepted to NYU Medical School . . . And now, news from my own darling group of girls: Sally Werner, who works as a researcher in a medical lab at Harvard, is getting married (on the Smith campus ) this May to longtime boyfriend Jake Brown. Fellow King House alums Bree Miller (Stanford Law '05), April Adams (intrepid research assistant for Women in Peril, Inc.), and yours truly will be serving as bridesmaids. Look out for the embarrassing drunken photos in the next issue. Until then, happy spring to all and keep sending me those updates.
Your class secretary,
Celia woke with a gasp.
Her head was throbbing, her throat was dry, and it was already nine o'clock. She was late for Sally's wedding or, at least, for the bus that would take her there. She silently cursed herself for going out the night before. What the hell kind of a bridesmaid showed up late to the wedding of a dear friend, and hungover at that?
Sun streamed through the windows of her little alcove studio. From her spot in bed, Celia could see two beer bottles and an open bag of tortilla chips on the coffee table by the couch, and, oh Jesus, there was a condom wrapper on the floor. Well then, that answered that.
The guy lying next to her was named either Brian or Ryan; that much she remembered. Everything else was a bit of a blur. She vaguely recollected kissing him on the front stoop of her building, fumbling for the keys, his hand already moving up her leg and under her skirt. She did not recall having sex or, for that matter, eating tortilla chips.
She was lucky not to have been chopped up into little bits. Her sober self needed to somehow get the message to her drunk self that it was entirely unadvisable to bring strange men home. You saw it in the papers all the time--They met at a party, he asked her to go for a stroll, two days later the police found her torso in a dumpster in Queens. She wished that casual sex wasn't so intimately connected to the possibility of being murdered, but there you had it.
Celia leaned toward him now and kissed his cheek, trying to affect an air of calm.
I've got to leave soon, she said softly. Do you want to hop in the shower?
He shook his head. I don't have to go into the office today, he said. Got a golf date with some clients this afternoon. Mind if I sleep in?
Umm, no, she said. That's fine.
Celia looked him over. Blond hair, perfect skin, chiseled arms, dimples. He was cute, suspiciously cute. Too attractive f
Celia, Bree, Sally, and April first meet as college freshmen and over a period of six years experience both happiness and disappointment as they to find fulfilling love relationships, deal with changes within their families, and pursue successful careers.
J. Courtney Sullivan's celebrated debut novel is a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear ideaabout what to choose.
Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn't have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives witha bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiance she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheadedfeminist wearing a Riot: Don't Diet T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikelyfriends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
J. Courtney Sullivan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, New York, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Men’s Vogue, the New York Observer, Tango, and in the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love. She is a graduate of Smith College, lives in Brooklyn, and works in the editorial department of The New York Times. Commencement is her first novel.
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