Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Today, in celebration of the paperback release of An Uncommon Education: A Novel, I have a book spotlight and interview with author Elizabeth Percer.

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 1/8/13

Uncommon Education, An: A NovelFor fans of "Prep," "Dead Poets Society," and "Special Topics in Calamity Physics "comes an elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut, in which a young woman's serendipitous discovery of her college's underground Shakespeare Society leads to an unforgettable series of transformations. When Naomi finds herself among "the Shakes" at Wellesley, she finally lets herself embrace the passionate inner self she's always kept locked away. But when a sudden scandal unfolds, she will be forced to learn the limits of the relationships that have sustained her. An intimate and enthralling narrative, Elizabeth Percer's debut novel "An Uncommon Education "marks the emergence of a stunning new literary talent.
 Interview with Elizabeth Percer
What was your inspiration for An Uncommon Education?
EP: I'm not sure work is inspired by "something." I think I just find an idea for a novel that I find inspiring, and I follow it, making sure to choose the adventure that most excites and challenges me along the way. I set out to write about women and education, but didn't pin myself down too much. I find that good work is frequently the result of allowing for plenty of surprise and discovery.

Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?
EP: Yes. I need about 15-30 minutes to transition between my "mom-of-three-kids" alter ego -- and all the juiciness and hyper-vigilance and hopeless striving for perfection that comes along with her -- and my "writing" self, who needs to let go and play. This is always hugely challenging for me, so the transition time usually involves distracting myself from myself, trying to ignore my plentiful neuroses long enough to let my creative self get a word in edgewise. Coffee helps, as do medicinal M&Ms.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
EP: See: three kids, above. I can honestly say that I absolute love being their mom, despite the fact that it so frequently threatens my sanity. Also, I love running. Well, what I do is more aptly called "meditative jogging," but I love it all the same. I love to sing and eat, too -- though not at the same time.

What books have most influenced your life?
EP: I cannot possibly list them all here -- though I'm sure you know that. Any book that fueled my love of reading, that made me ache with envy over the beauty of prose and insight, that inspired me or comforted me or made me laugh -- that would be an influential book. Thanks to my reading parents and family and education, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded in a virtual storm of them since the moment I began to read -- actually, probably well before then. It helps that I'm kind of a book slut and will read anything from trashy romance to Chaucer in Middle English. I'm not saying I understand Chaucer in Middle English, but it sure is a blast to read him -- especially out loud. If I were a drinking kind of gal, I think it would be even more fun.
Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
EP: I think it's important for avid readers -- and good writers are always avid readers -- to insist on NOT having a favorite author. It's too easy to get stuck, too easy to end up idolizing rather than relating, too easy to miss new gifts in new authors because you've got this impossible-to-emulate standard hovering between you and them. So, I don't have one! I could probably write out a list that you and your readers would not be the least interested in examining, but that list would probably change depending on the day/week/hour. It's sort of like asking what my favorite food is: it depends on what I'm hungriest for at that particular moment. (This very minutes, for example, I'm feeling so sad that Bill Watterson ended Calvin and Hobbes. That just sucks. I could really use me some new Calvin and Hobbes right about now. But the new Bouchon Bakery cookbook is eyeing me from the table, and that's looking really good, too.)

Thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my questions. I'll be reviewing An Uncommon Education soon. Stay tuned...

Praise for An Uncommon Education

“Enticing and shyly perceptive.”
New York Times Book Review

“Elizabeth Percer relates the life story of Naomi Feinstein with beautifully scripted, lush prose drawing in the reader and providing an unobstructed view deep into the hearts of her characters. . . . An Uncommon Education is rich in history, steeped in family tradition, and full of emotion-a lesson in practiced elegance.”
New York Journal of Books

“Think Dead Poet’s Society or The Secret History.”
New York Post

“A fine novel and a young writer to watch.”
Hudson Valley News

“[Naomi demonstrates] how to make the kinds of choices that eventually lead to an uncommon but joy-filled life.”

“Three-time Pushcart nominee Percer offers an uncommonly good debut that’s finely detailed and emotionally gripping while avoiding every pitfall of the standard coming-of-age tale. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Poet Percer’s fiction debut is an intimate portrait of an intelligent, tender girl with a deep wish to protect those she loves.”
Publishers Weekly

“Few [coming-of-age novels] have the steel-hard delicacy and exacting revelations of Elizabeth Percer’s first novel. At Wellesley, from which the author, a three-time Pushcart nominee, also graduated, Naomi feels isolated among the college’s smart, polished go-getters until she is introduced to the Shakespeare Society, whose members perform the Bard’s plays and construct passionate, complex, and sometimes exploding relationships. Here Naomi experiences both closeness and betrayal, here she finds her true purpose, and readers live every moment with her.”
Library Journal

“A moving and bittersweet coming-of-age story about love, loss, friendship, ambition, and the power of memory. This complex and satisfying tale introduces a cast of quirky, hilarious, intellectual young women, struggling to find their place in the world.”
— J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Maine and Commencement

“Bonds of love, family and friendship, sometimes damaged or beyond repair, are nevertheless celebrated in an intense debut by a noted poet. . . . [A] thoughtful coming-of-age tale that hovers observantly on the edge of melancholia.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A wistful debut novel by noted Bay Area poet.”
San Jose Mercury News

“Percer’s lyrical novel has much to offer.”

“Eloquent, haunting and exquisitely written, Percer’s stunning debut finds surprising beauty in the broken places of our lives. Here, winning can’t mute pain, but love endures despite the odds, and the education of a remarkable young woman is as uncommonly original as this novel itself.”
— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“Haunting and poignant, Elizabeth Percer’s coming-of-age novel portrays a bright young woman confronting her limits as she watches those she loves deal with illness and betrayal. Each turn of this elegiac debut revealed stark truths that left me both moved and astonished.”
— Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light

“It’s impossible not to care about Naomi Feinstein, a smart, sometimes lonely girl searching for her own life and a way to keep the people she loves safe. An Uncommon Education beautifully answers these questions by bringing Naomi to the Bard (the play’s the thing), but also gives the reader something much rarer--a world, and a life, that seem real.”
— Nicole Mones, author of Lost in Translation and The Last Chinese Chef

Purchase An Uncommon Education: A Novel at:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository


  1. oh thanks for putting another book on my radar Andrea! I've probably mentioned before, I love learning about what influence an author to write a book in the first place and it looks like Elizabeth has done a great job so far of balancing her busy life with writing this book! :)

  2. This book sounds really interesting. I really enjoyed reading the interview too. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. This sounds great! Thanks for the heads-up :)

  4. Great review, I never heard of this book prior to today, sounds interesting.

  5. I am with you..i have 100s' of favorite authors for whatever mood I am in, some are on my auto-buy list and I read whatever they write and other's I adore for a single book or just discovered yesterday..great interview!

  6. Oh yeah, transitioning from mom to author has got to be hard! I have concentration problems and anytime I'm writing a review and have interruptions it totally messes me up! This sounds like a very interesting book!

  7. Great interview. I admire her for only taking 15-30 minutes to transition from mom to writer. I think I would feel bipolar or something.


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