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An Off Year

3.12  ·  Rating Details ·  451 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Cecily has always done everything as she was supposed to: taken the right classes, gotten the right grades, applied to the right colleges. But after a lifetime of following the rules, she surprises everyone by arriving for her freshman year of college . . . and turning around. There are infinite possibilities for Cecily's unexpected gap year. She could volunteer, or travel ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 3rd 2009 by Dutton Books for Young Readers (first published August 29th 2009)
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Easy by Tammara WebberBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuireSlammed by Colleen HooverThoughtless by S.C. StephensWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
New Adult Literature
220th out of 1,278 books — 2,225 voters
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YA Books With Characters Out of High School
52nd out of 108 books — 157 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 31, 2012 Cara rated it really liked it
So I must talk about the cover first. Pretty eye catching but maybe too much huh? I'm here to tell you that main character does have fuzzy slippers and a pink rug in her room but of course this is not what the book is about. Well the main character does sort of scuffle around in those slippers, but I didn't read the book because of the cover but the premise.

Cecily is a normal smart girl and is set to go to college. She has spent all summer preparing, buying, and packing to set herself up for th
Sep 09, 2009 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I cannot put this down nor quit reading it over and over again! I recommend everyone buy 5 copies! This book will solve all your problems and make you laugh and laugh.
Nathan Rabin
Feb 17, 2009 Nathan Rabin rated it it was amazing
I liked it so much I blurbed the holy living fuck out of it!
Jan 28, 2010 Brandy rated it really liked it
After years of good grades and preparation, Cecily stands outside the door to her freshman dorm room--and promptly turns around to go home. What happened? Even she can't explain it, but fortunately her dad is understanding enough to take her back home and sort it all out later. "Later" stretches into months, and Dad's patience slowly runs out. Cecily has no idea what caused her to turn around at the very last moment, and even with the help of her friends, a psychologist, and a college counselor, ...more
Aug 30, 2009 Alea rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-review
I knew right away when I read the blurb for this book it was made for me. And I was so happy that once I was done reading it that it provided exactly what I was looking for. For me the story was very realistic and relatable. I sort of unknowingly took a year off after I graduated from college and literally did nothing (I watched so many repeats of Scrubs they actual started repeating back to ones I had seen that same year!). I know that some people might have problems reading a story about a ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Oumiie rated it liked it
AN OFF YEAR, by Claire Zulkey

This book, An off year, is about Cecily~! Who doesn't really know what to do, with her life. She is confused! She had left her, school, but she unfortunately came back for her Last Grade! She didn't go to school, for a lot of years, due to the fact that she travels a lot! AROUND THE WORLD! I won't tell you a lot, read to find the rest!

In this I would really love to be Cecily friend, cause she has a really great personality and she's really nice, but she sometimes has
Sep 24, 2009 Meg rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Three and a half stars. Sometimes four.

This guy is pitched very differently from a lot of YA, you should know that. There's cussing and pacing and a lot of denials of expectation. No big sweeping resolutions, no set pieces. Cecily grows and changes incrementally, she gains and loses people realistically, she argues with her siblings and has a good relationship with her father. She's an uncommon heroine, in all that.

I know I compare, like, everything in the world to E. Lockhart, now, but this i
May 05, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing
This book resides in the young adult shelf, which is wonderful, because that designation boosts the quality of literature there by many percentage points. However, labeling An Off Year as YA will also likely discourage many adults from reading it, as will the Barbie-pink cover. But let's change the color in our minds: this book is like a kiwi fruit -- a quick snack that's a burst of mental vitamins.

Cecily is all ready for college -- until she gets there, and turns around and goes home. No, she's
Lenore Appelhans
Jul 30, 2009 Lenore Appelhans rated it liked it
Cecily did nothing. NOTHING. That’s why I’m surprised I was not bored out of my skull reading about her year off. You see, even though Cecily lacks drive, she can banter with the best of them and the writing sparkles with subtle, sly humor. She banters with her father (resigned to Cecily’s inertia), her siblings (envious that she can get away with doing nothing as the baby of the family), her shrink, her career councilor, her best friend (increasing distant and slutty as her year at college ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
This story, of a girl who suddenly decides she doesn't want to go to college, hit home with me. My parents tried to talk me into taking a year off before I started college, to travel, volunteer, discover what I wanted to study, etc. I didn't, because I was so caught up in the machinations of school applying, grades, etc. I ended up really regretting that choice (and really hating college the first time around).

An adult reading this book is going to find the protagonist extremely sulky, spoiled,
Sep 10, 2011 Rachel rated it did not like it
Shelves: will-not-finish, ya
I found this very lifeless. Some books have protagonists that aren't relateable because they're too interesting, but I can't relate to Cecelia because she's too dull. She decides not to go to college as she's about to move into her dorm room, because . . . why? Meh, who knows? And given her tepid inner monologue, who cares? But what made me quit on it was the terrible sense of time. Because Zulkey wanted to do a whole month per chapter (and the chapters aren't very long), everything happens at ...more
Oct 29, 2009 laaaaames rated it really liked it
I loved loved loved this. But also it was very hard to read. I had a lot of Off Years myself. And no one but me and rude people seemed to care. And I wish my tale had been less like it actually was and more like Cecily's.

I know a book is good when it strikes at big and little truths, just basic things, right at your core, that are as much a part of your history as anything.

I'm afraid I'm not making much sense, but I think this book is really important in pushing a lot of things people don't nece
Jun 27, 2012 elizabetht rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to pick this up for a while and grabbed it on a whim at the library the other day... and then read it in two sittings. I really loved it, and more than anything wish something like this was around when I was in college. She manages to hit that fear of not fitting in/not being a partyer/losing touch with high school friends/not knowing what on EARTH to do with your life. And yeah, sometimes the main character is annoying but... that's how it is. I wished for a bit more ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, ya
This book is great. I love the writing style--so open, so honest, so no-frills--and the topic was unexpected (the cover doesn't appeal to me in the slightest). I wonder what it would be like to read this book before attending college, rather than 15 years after, when I don't actually remember the panic of heading off to school. Still, the panic and anxiety rang completely true, even if I can't personally recall it! Perhaps that's what made this book so well written.
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 15, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it did not like it
Interesting concept, but this book literally has nothing to it. It's about a lazy, angst-ridden teenager who has no idea what she wants to do with her life (join the club, kid!) and decides to do nothing at all.

...Yup, that's about it.

At first I assumed there'd be some deeper meaning in there, or some intelligent commentary on society or on life, but there wasn't one. It was just one giant rant.
Aug 31, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
Claire Zulkey is the funniest writer, character for character, in America today. Off Year is hilarious and touching, like a young New Wave female Sedaris, the wacky and off-beat of Cecily's journeys are unforgettable, for old adults too. Jump on this bandwagon, you won't be sorry.
Mark Graham
May 28, 2009 Mark Graham rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to score a galley copy of this fantastic first novel from Claire Zulkey and I loved it! Cecily is a very relatable protagonist, one whose journey of self-discovery is entirely free of the sorts of cliches that you so typically find in stories with this particular subject matter.
The Library Lady
Nov 26, 2009 The Library Lady rated it did not like it
I kept expecting something to happen--for Cecily to grow up. But the only difference between the day she goes off to college for the first time and the day a year later when she goes back and stays is that one year has passed. What a waste of her time and mine!
Mar 01, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I found this one off of one of those "best YA books of the year" lists. It didn't hold my attention though. It felt hollow. Which can happen A LOT with YA. I guess I'm kind of wanting something a little more riveting/immersive.
Erin Shea Smith
Feb 18, 2009 Erin Shea Smith rated it it was amazing
I already know this book will be my favorite of all time.
Oct 03, 2012 Mckinlay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
the main character reminds me SO MUCH of my best friend which is probably why i liked it so much.
Nov 20, 2016 Madison rated it did not like it
After reading the reviews and description of this book i thought it was going to be so good and i had such high hopes.. I was wrong. Not only is there no real sense of time, but there seems to be no point. Yes some could argue that its about a girl on her year off figuring things out, i agree, but nothing happens, and what is written and described doesn't have any real point to it. The only reason i even finished the book was because it was so small, however after finishing it, it was a waste of ...more
Pamela Teare
Nov 29, 2016 Pamela Teare rated it really liked it
Good book for students in junior or senior year of high school who are contemplating or 'being forced' to go to college. Tackles some of the feelings students confront when leaving home and living in an environment they don't necessarily like. Good read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2011 Jordyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2011, b-list
After going through the college application process and showing up at her college dorm room, Cecily does the unexpected -- she turns around and heads home, leaving her freshman year of college untouched. Without thinking about it or making plans, she ends up taking a gap year as she tries to figure out just why she suddenly felt that starting college was impossible for her.

I have to be upfront and tell you that not much happens in this book. Cecily's year is one of ennui and is broken up by mont
Stephanie A.
A cover blurb from John Green says that this novel "should be read by everyone who's ever felt paralyzed thinking about the future." There's no better way to state it, but GoodReads gets my personal reaction anyway.

An Off Year features a girl who gets to college on Move-In Day and abruptly decides she can't do it -- so her dad lets her turn around and go home with no plans whatsoever, whereupon she proceeds to spend most of the next year doing nothing but co-existing with her family, playing wit
Mar 17, 2010 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010, yaf
"An Off Year" is the year in the life of Cecily (whose last name escapes me), an eighteen year old who decides to forgo her first year of college the minute she gets to her dorm. Supposedly this is not typical behavior for Cecily, she is not a drama queen. She spends the following twelve months justifying and demystifying her decision. The story is realistic, but a good portion of American teenagers might have a hard time relating to a privileged kid from the suburban sanctuary just outside of ...more
Aug 29, 2010 Jacki rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-fiction
This book explores a great concept: taking a year off between college and high school to assess what you really want from life. The narrative voice is winning and quirky, if not actually laugh-out-loud funny, so the book is extremely readable. Character development is decent.

Unfortunately, none of the characters are really likable, starting with the heroine. Her journey of self-discovery is completely passive and contains exactly zero epiphanies. She searches her soul, ponders why she decided no
Dec 28, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-books
An Off Year tells the story of Cecily, a teenager who, upon arriving at her chosen college, decides she no longer wants to attend college, but would rather take a year off to figure her life out. Rather than just pointing readers to Cecily’s reasoning for making this quick decision, author Claire Zulkey takes readers on Cecily’s journey of discovery herself that flows smoothly from one page to the next.

Cecily’s character is both quirky and inquisitive, while being completely believable. Like man
Oct 05, 2011 Laurie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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