Tag Archives: university

Post Grad – Emily Cassel
Book Reviews
February 3, 2010 posted by Katie

Post Grad – Emily Cassel

What happens when your life doesn’t go according to plan?

Ryden Malby had a plan. Step One: Do will in high school, thereby achieving Step Two: Get a college scholarship. Step Three: Limit her beer intake in order to keep said scholarship (which wasn’t always easy). Now that she’s finally graduated, it’s time for Step Four: Move into a gorgeous loft apartment and land her dream job at the city’s best publishing house. So far, Ryden’s been three-for-three, but she’s about to stumble on Step Four…

When Jessica Bard, Ryden’s college nemesis – the prettiest, smartest, most ambitious girl at school – steals her perfect job, Ryden’s forced to move back to her childhood home. Stuck with her eccentric family – a stubborn do-it-yourself dad, an overly thrifty mom, a politically incorrect grandma, a very odd little brother – and a growing stack of rejected job applications, Ryden starts to feel like she’s going nowhere. The only upside is spending time with her best friend, Adam – and running into her hot next-door neighbour, David. But if Ryden’s going to survive life as a post grad, it may be time to come up with a new plan…

Ryden Malby seems to be on the up. College scholarship, best friend that she has known forever, and promising prospects at top publishing firm Happerman and Browning. It’s The Plan after all. Moving away from home and an eccentric family that Ryden wishes she weren’t related too is all Ryden has ever wanted. It’s graduation day, and if she can get through the ceremony without some form of disaster, tomorrow will be the start of her new life.

And to being with, everything seems to be going great. Until Adam, her best friend who is driving her to look at the gorgeous loft apartment and to her interview crashes. From there everything seems to fall apart. Being beat out for the dream job but perfect, valedictorian college classmate Jessica, being denied the keys to the apartment, Ryden is forced back to the last place she ever wants to be – home.

Facing countless months of un-employment when she can’t even keep a job at her own father’s luggage store, Ryden feels that nothing will ever be right again. A small light in that future however is David – her older and hotter next-door neighbour. Scoring her a small job as an assistant on the set of the commercials that he directs, Ryden finally feels like she has some to talk to. That is, until she messes up again, angering Adam to the point that he decides to take the offer of a law course in New York. Completely on the opposite side of the continent to Ryden, and it seems no amount of apologies will get Adam to talk to Ryden.

In a world with plans go off track, Ryden must work out exactly what it is she wants, and what she is willing to give up to get it.

Post Grad
by Emily Cassel is adapted from the screenplay of recent movie release of the same name, starring Alexis Bledel. I haven’t seen the movie from which the novel was adapted, but I have it on good authority that it was a fun, easy film to watch. Shame that the same can’t be said from the novel. I found the plot weak and that the characters lacked development over the course of the events. Nothing ever happened for a reason, things just happened. With an entirely predictable ending, there was nothing in this book that really got me caring about what actually happened to Ryden.

The most notable parts of the book were Ryden’s eccentric family. They at least, made it interesting to read – their bizarre and somewhat random acts breaking up the monotony of the rest of the plot.

To me, Post Grad was a concept that had a lot of potential, but was poorly executed in terms of plot and character development.

Pages: 243

Publication date: America 2009, Australia 2010

Rating:: ★★½☆☆

Teaser quote: If you ever truly want to be stared at, try driving down Wilshire Boulevard in your mother’s pink Le Baron with an enormous, half-shattered coffin strapped to the roof.

Life Swap – Abby McDonald
Book Reviews
November 23, 2009 posted by Katie

Life Swap – Abby McDonald

Can changing places change their lives?

Two girls on opposite sides of the globe both want a quick getaway. The answer? They switch places through a last minute global exchange program. The catch? It’s a direct swap. They swap classes, accommodation and universities. No exceptions. Feminist political theory for film studies. On-camps accommodation for an share-apartment. A university where attendance is expected to one that doesn’t take a roll.

Tasha’s life seems to be coming to pieces. After the disastrous ‘hot-tub incident’, Tasha’s parents wont even talk to her. She can’t go anywhere without being recognised – for all the wrong reasons. She’s desperate to get out. To go anywhere. Emily thought she was on-track. Every aspect planned until she is dumped by her boyfriend for being too studious and up-tight. Every step of her life has been because it is the right decision for the future. The future that her parents what for her. Until now.

Tasha winds up in Oxford, England. Not something you would expect of a typical beach going, class-skipping and all round party girl from America. Finding herself wadding Ugg-deep in feminist theory, Tasha just wants people to see her for who she really is. Not who they all think she is. Yet when the whole university seems out to get her for her rather different views on feminism, blending in seems to be an impossible feat. Emily heads to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Suddenly she is in a world that is the opposite of organisation, planning and preparation. From a class size of three to a lecture hall of 200, Emily is in for a semester of film critiquing, script re-writing and filming. However, her ‘English’ image of perfection and organisation seems to be alienating the rest of the student body against her.

Before long, the two girls make contact from opposite sides of the globe, each offering the other tips and strategies on how to fit in, navigate the difficulty of love and figuring out who they really want to be. Can Tasha and Emily help each other before they each make the best or worst mistake of their lives?

First off, I loved this book. It was extremely well-written and captivating from the first page until the end. Life Swap is debut novel from Abby McDonald, who is a recent graduate of Oxford University providing an excellent platform to satire the collage experience. McDonald’s spin on what could have potentially be seen as stereotypical characters gave a fresh new insight into the way different cultures work and operate against each other. The language choices are fresh and real – McDonald knows how to talk in the language of a teenager, and it transfers into the truth and reality conveyed in Life Swap. With interesting plot developments for both characters and an equal division of both characters story, McDonald manages to create two diverse universe’s that operate in sync with each other. For me, the characters where real people that I could relate to.

I saw a reflection of myself in both Tasha and Emily’s actions, and were able to relate to the choices and situations that both characters found themselves in. From Tasha trying to re-gain some sense of pride and belief in herself after a past mistake that the world wouldn’t forget, to Emily trying to let loose and relinquish her almost obsessive-compulsive to have everything this in her life organised. Emily’s defiance of her parents in the face of, for once, choosing to do what she wants and the events that influence this decision was an interesting look for me, and I feel that many young adults who read this book will relate to it in the same way.

Life Swap was a joy of an adventure that had you laughing, crying and cringing with every decision made.

Rating:: ★★★★★