At the end of a European tour for teens the summer before college, a rules-following, 18-year-old girl impulsively travels to Paris with a handsome Shakespearean actor, a one-day adventure that becomes the catalyst for big changes in the way she sees herself and her place in the world.
Nicely integrating the work of Shakespeare as a thematic jumping-off place, author Forman explores “the line between true self and feigned self,” the multiple personae, roles and identities that coexist in a single soul. After Allyson, the dutiful, emotionally muted daughter of a pulmonologist father and helicopter mother, finally breaks out and has a romantic adventure with aforesaid handsome actor, she wakes up alone. She feels betrayed and played, precipitating a hard-to-buy psychological crisis. Once in college, Allyson finds herself unengaged by the pre-med curriculum her parents designed. Although she feels trapped by their expectations, with the support of classmate Dee (who tiptoes through various identities and roles himself) Allyson begins the business of figuring out who she is and what she wants. As she blossoms and emerges from her tedious depression, the novel becomes absorbing, and readers will find themselves rooting for Allyson’s more autonomous and interesting self.
An overlong coming-of-age novel that takes forever to get going but soars at the finish. (Fiction. 14 & up)