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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Graduate by Charles Webb~★★★★

Author: Charles Webb
Title: The Graduate
Release Date: 1963
Publisher: The New American Library
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "Benjamin Braddock was good-looking, athletic, rich, and exceptionally intelligent. He had just graduated tops in his class from one of the finest colleges in the east. He had won a valuable and coveted teaching fellowship to the graduate school of his choice. And in the garage was a flashy, expensive sports car---a graduation gift from his dad.
But for all the accomplishment in his past and the promise for his future, Ben was a miserable specimen of humanity. As far as he was concerned, his degree and the learning it stood for weren't worth a pail of spit...and he had no intention of going on to graduate school, fellowship or no fellowship!
Then, in the midst of Ben's harrowing adn poignant search for himself, the wife of his father's business partner came along to give Ben a thorough post-graduate education.
Ben's zany misadventures as he lets himself get involved with a beautiful older woman, then fights a losing battle to stop himself from falling completely in love with a younger version of the same beauty, will tantalize and captivate every reader. Charles Webb's spare, understated literary style has a magical fascination. And his wry sense of humor provides a delicate balance to the novel's deeply serious underlying theme of communication between the generations."

Taryn's Review: I took my little brother to the library with me on a hot Sunday afternoon and let him choose a book for me to read. He wasn't nearly as selective as my sister had been. As he wandered up and down the aisle, he simply pulled a book off the shelf and said, "Here, read this one." And that is how I ended up with The Graduate.

The book was one I really enjoyed, but I know it is also a book some people will absolutely hate. It was actually a wonderful change to read an author who didn't over-specify everything, but just focused on the dialogue between the characters.

In the book, Ben was lost in his life. That is something as a recent college graduate I understand. I, too, am lost, and many of my friends are lamenting about how the world isn't what they thought it would be. When exactly is the line of being a grown-up crossed?

Ben intrigued me because he first rejected what society wanted him to be. He didn't want to go to graduate school, he didn't want to teach, he wanted to find out what made the world the world and he disregarded the elite, upper-class world he had known since birth (a very hippie-ish thought, I'd argue, especially being written in 1963). After a 3-week hitch-hiking journey, Ben found his notions about the real world and real people were crushed, and a depression and affair ensued.

However, Ben later changed his tune and wanted to become exactly what society told him he should be...a husband, a student, a teacher. Ben became obsessed with the idea of reaching the standard, but he also tried to reach it with the one person he shouldn't yet it's the same person that society had told him he, in fact, should be with all along.

Classic book with heaps of praise and I can see why. It won't be everyone's favorite due to the simplistic writing style, but that's one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Ben's actions may not have been very honorable, but they are representative of the lostness we all feel at some point and he's one example of the many ways that feeling is dealt with by some people.

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