Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan is her first foray into the literary world. Although she is no stranger to producing a good story -- she works in the editorial department of the New York Times.
The book is about a group of four twenty-something girls who've recently graduated from the all-women's college, Smith, and are learning to navigate learn, live and love post-college while preserving their friendship.
Celia, Bree, Sally and April have all been assigned to the same (and very spacious) dorm suite their freshman year. Based on outwardly appearances, they all couldn't be more different from each other: Celia - a "fallen" Catholic arrives with rosary beads in one hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase, Bree - a southern girl who desperately misses her fiancé, Sally - an A-type personality who's dealing with the recent loss of her mother and April - a redheaded feminist who attends every protest under the sun.
Throughout their four years at Smith, each of them experience triumphs and tragedies while still being fully devoted to each other.
When they reunite for Sally's wedding four years after graduation, their friendship dynamics have changed. Although they are still loyal to one another, certain levels of friendship have broken down, causing division in their otherwise rock-solid bond.
This book explored female friendships in a very honest fashion. It showed the complexities and abundant joys that make up any typical young woman's friendship. The awkwardness in the beginning, the rallying, the constant support, the laughter and tears, the gradual buildup of annoyance, the behind-the-back talking, the big fight(s), the stubbornness on both sides, etc.
I found myself so invested in and caring about these characters. I really identified with Celia, not on every level, but in the way she was always concerned with being the group mediator.
Even though there are four characters, their own stories are developed and told quite well. Many twists and turns occurred, that I did not expect.
However, the ending was quite lacking for me. Of course, I'm not going to give it away or anything, but the pace of the book began to move so quickly near the end that when it finally ended, it was like "really, that's how it ends?" I was expecting more oomph. But whatevs, it wasn't completely disappointing.
If you are looking for good chick-lit that won't make you want to stomp on your braincells (why is it that some authors think that chick-lit only equals obsessing over men, whining about weight and clamoring for clothes?) then I HIGHLY recommend this book.