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Customer Reviews (11)
Educating Waverly - a "must read"
In Educating Waverly, local author Laura Kalpakian delivers an incredibly well-written, engaging tale of student Waverly Scott, her cohorts and teachers at the Temple School. Banished to the school on the remote island of Isadora in the Puget Sound, Scott comes of age amidst a cast of eclectic but lovable characters. Meanwhile, World War II explodes in Europe, soon to indelibly impact Scott's life as a French refugee is sent to the school for protection.
Kalpakian artfully describes Scott and her fellow teens as they discover their world in an alternative, private school owned and operated by Sophia Westervelt, the heir of a local logging family. With compassion and understanding, Kalpakian brings her characters to life with believable, memory-invoking descriptions of teen angst as the students attempt to embrace Westervelt's unconventional teachings on becoming a "North American Woman of the Future."
In spite of the book's cover, the Temple School is unconventional and the students' dress is anything but short skirts and penny loafers. Instead, the students are clad in comfortable tunics, slacks and Roman sandals to instill in them the freedom they will need to "see the unseen" and to "fear nothing save ignorance, untruth and ugliness."
Throughout the 300+ page read, the author interweaves life on the island with the tragic events of the war, each having an impact on the other. Slowly, she allows the character's pasts to unfold creating a fascinating interconnection that can only be understood as each piece is deliciously revealed.
With unmatched skill, Kalpakian smoothly transitions from one historical time to another, in one breath telling the impacts of World War II and the next describing the bitter disappointment of those who fought in the Great War before it. Without following a logical or chronological pattern, the author manages to paint the complete picture of each of the main characters as they move through life, love and loss.
Perhaps without realizing it, Kalpakian creates a suspenseful novel, holding the reader's attention with poignant descriptions of our nation's history, while sharing long forgotten adolescent pain and triumph. Her story is beautifully written, her words well chosen, and her story magnificently told. This novel is not your everyday romance novel. Rather, it is a rare treat to the discerning reader, one not easily forgotten.
I have enjoyed Kalpakian's books in the past and this one was no exception. I liked the way she presented an unusual situation and locale, and how the characters' lives all became so intertwined. This is a testament of the author's skills at weaving a complex story into a believable whole.
The secrets that have been kept over the years, on Isadora Island and beyond, drive the story and keep the reader intruiged. The few students of the mysterious, free-spirited Sophie Westerveldt at Temple School learn unusual lessons that will stay with them far into their futures.
I am not usually fond of books that move around in time, back and forth, but Kalpakian's skill kept the book from seeming choppy. The story emerged gradually and allowed the reader topeel back the layers and put all the pieces together.
A good read.
Best of 2003
This is an excellently written and crafted story. Best along with Human Stain. This would actually make a very good movie as opposed to Human Stain which should not be a movie. The story is perfect in every way. I will read all of this author.
This book was recommended to me by a friend & I found it disappointing - full of purple prose and flat characters. It made me wince sometimes, it was so corny. There's a moany love-triangle between three of the characters which is annoying and unconvincing. Supposedly, two girls, Waverley Scott and Avril Aron, are so smitten with each other that they refer to each other as "Wavril"- one soul and one person. Both of them are also moony and moany over their grocery-delivery boy, Sandy. All three enjoy a kind of romance-novel menage a trois on moonlit nights on the beach, sexed up with hot, melting marshmallows. The marshmallows are a metaphor for their passion? Ick. That's just too gooey, and the book is filled with bits like that. Most disappointing was the character of the "brilliant" teacher, a supposedly inspirational, free-spirited woman who is now past her prime. She's still supposed to inspire us, but she only reminded me of Robin Williams in The Birdcage, doing those imitations of Martha Graham and Madonna - very goofy, not intelligent.EDUCATING WAVERLEY takes itself way too seriously. I found myself shaking my head often and saying "Give me a break," which isn't a good sign. For much better writing about the adolescence of spoiled school girls, read ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan. And if you want the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest, read SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS by David Guterson. Despite good marketing, EDUCATING WAVERLEY barely makes it out of the romance-novel category. I think Laura Kalpakian can do (and has done) better, and I recommend a skip on this one.
This is a gem of a book.The story line covers three generations and various venues and characters, yet flows beautifully.
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