Lauren Hopkins's Reviews > Election

Election by Tom Perrotta
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 03 to 08, 2012

Very funny yet also sad novel perfectly capturing high school life most realistically without any of the teen movie romanticism we'd typically get. The characters in this book - from the over-achieving Tracy Flick to the delightfully dumb Paul Warren - are so well-written and so real. Not one is over the top or a caricature, despite each having major flaws that inevitably lead to very funny moments...Tracy's overeager attitude shown in Mr M's glimpse of her jumping for joy through the classroom window, for example, or when she jumps up despite Paul's name being called after the election. Yet despite her annoying traits, you also feel bad for her after reading about her overzealous mother and how lonely she is. This is how it is with every character - even their worst traits are forgiven when you learn just how sad they really are. You also get a feel for the banality of high school and suburban life without reading a boring story, and it reads so quickly you can probably finish it within a couple of hours. I saw the movie before reading the book, but like the book's ending a little better...the moment between Tracy and Mr M with the yearbook is very sweet and real.

One of the best pieces of the book, in one of Tracy's sections:

“Sometimes when I can’t sleep and my stomach’s all tied up in nots, I think about something I heard on the TV news during last year’s presidential election. A panel of experts was discussing the candidates, and one of them said, ‘The problem with George Bush isn’t that he lacks fire-in-the-belly, it’s that fire-in-the-belly is all he has.’ I’d never heard that expression before and it jarred something loose in me. I remembered how Jack used to tell me I had ‘fever skin.’ It seemed to him that I was always running a slight temperature, glowing with extra heat. ‘My God,’ he’d say. ‘You’re burning up.’ So now, when I’m wide awake at three in the morning, wondering why I have no close friends, I comfort myself with the thought that I belong to a secret and powerful club - me, George Bush, Madonna, Dan Rather, plus thousands of people you’ve never heard of - and we’re all lying there in separate beds with our eyes wide open and these tiny bonfires blazing in our stomachs, lighting up the night.”

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