What happens when you let a feminist into a frat house? Cassandra Davis is about to find out.
When Cassandra's conservative, working-class Midwestern parents—who don’t see the value in a woman’s getting a college degree—are unable to pay the tuition for her dream school in California, she applies for and receives a full-ride scholarship on the basis of her research proposal: an undercover study of Delta Tau Chi, a fraternity plagued by accusations of sexism. At first Cassie is thrilled about the idea of taking the organization down, but after becoming the first successful female pledge in the American fraternity’s history, she finds that her frat brothers are not all villains—in fact, many of them are capable of change. In her debut novel, Roache has created a narrator with a strong, relatable voice as well as a cast of nuanced characters full of pleasant surprises and believable personal growth. However, her prose often slips into the didactic, referencing theory dominated by white feminist icons ranging from Lena Dunham to Andrea Dworkin and Tina Fey. Mentions of the global South disappointingly rely on a victim mentality that oversimplifies women’s struggles there, and her portrayal of working-class families feels condescending. The few characters of color in the book are two-dimensional.
Blind spots around race, culture, and class distract from an otherwise thoughtful, entertaining, and politically relevant coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 16-adult)