Election

Election

  • Publish Date: 1998
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Tom Perrotta
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Berkley
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Leftovers comes a darkly hilarious novel about a high school election that brings out the worst in everyonethe basis for the film starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick!

Tracy Flick wants to be President of Winwood High. Shes one of those ambitious girls who finds time to do it all: edit the yearbook, star in the musical, sleep with her English teacher. But another teacher, staunch idealist Jim McAllister (aka Mr. M.), thinks the students deserve better. So he persuades Paul Warrena well-liked, good-hearted jockto throw in his hat. But that puts Pauls sister, Tammy, in a snit. So she runs, too, on an apathy platformbefore starting a real campaign...to get herself kicked out of school.

Tammys upset because her secret, forbidden love has been lured away...by her own brother. Tracys upset because losing this election might screw up her college chances. Mr. M.s upset because ever since he embarked on his own extramarital affair, his lifes been falling apart. As for Paul, well, hes not sure what's going on.

The whole idea was to educate these suburban New Jersey teenagers in the democratic process and the American way. But with all the sex scandals, smear campaigns, and behind-the-scenes power brokers at Winwood High, it doesn't look as if they need any lessons...

Tom Perrotta is a remarkably astute observer and writer of the adolescent experience. His Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies is a delightful collection of coming-of-age stories, which give insight into the joys and agonies of adolescence. In Perrotta's first full-length novel The Wishbones, a 31-year-old musician can't quite cope with the responsibilities of adulthood and instead lives an extended adolescence. Perrotta's much-anticipated second novel Election again successfully ventures into the adolescent psyche.

The book is set in a New Jersey high school amidst a hotbed of political activity: students are voting for their school president. Perrotta's cast of characters are exaggerated but convincing. They convey adolescence as it often is--sometimes painful and frequently awkward. Tracy is the popular girl, smart and pretty, but she isn't quite as perfect as her classmates assume. A sordid affair with a teacher lurks in the shadows. Paul is the jovial football jock, but his parent's divorce has left him hurt and vulnerable. Then there is Paul's younger and geekier sister Tammy, the tormented underdog struggling with her sexuality. Plot develops through a series of mini-chapters, narrated by the main protagonists. There are also frequent interjections from Mr. M, the all-around good teacher every kid loves--the kind of teacher Hollywood loves to enshrine in sentimental flicks. A genuine crescendo of excitement and anticipation consumes the reader, as we eagerly await who has won the election. This is a novel of teenagers on the brink of adulthood, and is probably best appreciated by grownups with enough perspective on their own adolescent experiences to be able to take the bitter with the sweet.

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