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The Learning Curve

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  58 reviews
A love triangle between two college friends and a charismatic professor alters the lives of everyone involved in this razor-sharp novel.

Fiona and Liv are seniors at Buchanan College, a small liberal arts school in rural Pennsylvania. Fiona, who is still struggling after the death of her younger sister, is spending her final year sleeping with abrasive men she meets in b
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Random House
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  227 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Alicia Allen
May 27, 2019 rated it it was ok

The story...I made myself finish this book because I was waiting for the big thing to happen that never did.
There were so many times when it was just so hard to keep reading about these people and their problems.
Also the book ends abruptly.
I just...
Jun 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: meh-what-even
"Bad fiction is bad fiction."
theresa 🌸🥑
the writing was smart but then that was kinda the point of the whole book,wasn’t it?i felt uncomfortable most of the time reading this book and not even in a challenging way,just a gross one.not my cuppa tea 🤷🏻♀ ...more
Susie Williams
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
(thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy of the book)

The Learning Curve is my kind of book, though I can certainly see why it might not be everyone's cup of tea. It reminded me A LOT of Meg Wolitzer and especially her book The Female Persuasion. One of the biggest criticisms of that book is that the characters are all so privileged and immersed in second wave feminism. And while yes, that is true, I also don't see why this is necessarily a bad thing.

The book is told from the point
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is truly a novel for the time. The novel follows mainly Fiona and Liv. If you read Mandy’s debut Perennials, you will remember Fiona. I think though that Mandy does a fantastic job of giving the reader all the information they need if they have not yet picked up Perennials. In The Learning Curve we are presented with all of the complex issues that face us when we are in college and most importantly when we are in friendships. You constantly want to be with your friends, safe and secur ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
THE LEARNING CURVE by Mandy Berman is a coming of age novel of today, though set 10 years ago. We follow Fiona (who we met in Berman's earlier novel), Liv, and Simone as they explore their sexual selves, body autonomy, and their place in the world while their lives intersect thanks to a charming, yet disappointing, male Professor. As a college story, I was immediately drawn in as those are my favorite types of coming of age stories. The students were certainly going through valid and not often t ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
It was a good read.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a fan of PERENNIALS, Mandy Berman's first novel set in this extended universe, but I didn't LOVE it. It was more that I respected it. And going into THE LEARNING CURVE, which jumps ahead 2+ years from the events of the first book (don't worry, this isn't a sequel - but it is nice to have the backing of the first book's plot in my head), I assumed I would feel the same way. That I would be entertained but not blown away, that I would be happy to have another midlist literary fiction title in ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

It felt like there was a lot going on in this book, and yet I found all of the chaos strangely enjoyable. A book that primarily revolves around two college girls and a lonely wife of a college professor living in Berlin doesn't seem particularly appealing to someone like me on the surface, but maybe there's something intriguing about reading about relatively wealthy people whose lives are so different from yours. This bo
Kathleen Gray
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting novel that I suspect some will put down early on for a variety of reasons but those who keep with it will find it an intriguing portrait of three women. This was elevated for me by the viewpoint of Simone, the wife of Oliver, the 40 something former wunderkind now visiting professor who has grabbed the fantasies of Fiona and Liv. The problems of college students don't amount to a hill of beans usually but Fiona, who apparently appeared in Berman's first novel (which I did not read ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gritty coming-of-age story pulled me further and further in with each page, until I was looking forward to the end of my day, when I could read whole chunks at a time. Now that I'm done, I'll miss this novel. Mandy Berman creates a very real character in Fiona; you don't always like her, but by the end you know her and root for her. What I liked best, other than the chapters set in Paris and Berlin, is Berman's portrayal of the messiness of the human condition; the grieving part, for which ...more
Claire Barfell
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book on Goodreads Giveaways. This is the story of Liv and Fiona who are friends in college and are both attracted to one professor. Oliver is married and has a son, however, his wife Simone has to endure his absences when he goes to America to make money and teach. This book depicts how college students party, have casual sex and do have a lot of freedom to do what they want. It is a very intellectual book, but you can still understand the depth of it even if you never went to college ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This was a novel about 3 different women, all connected in some way to one (kind of awful in my opinion) man, trying to find their way. Although the novel was very well written, I found it so difficult to connect with any of the characters and that made it very difficult for me to get through. I did really enjoy the way the novel referenced other works throughout, it made the content a bit more relatable. I also found the parts that related to religion and the past interesting as well. The novel ...more
Morgan Schulman
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reader-s-copy
I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a very enjoyable and well written book, and it is the rare book in which all of the various unlikable characters actually become likable as you get to know them. I was sad to say goodbye to them at the end. It had been a nice year in their company

TW: About 80% into the book a girl confides to her friend that she was raped, and the friend asked if she was just drunk. Putting it in there now even though it’s
Ally Rzeszutko
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced readers copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a fun read about three women's relationships with a crappy man.

I enjoyed Berman's references to other works of literature throughout the novel, and how she withheld details about Helen that kept the reader guessing.

#TheLearningCurve #NetGalley
Jay Gabler
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Random House for the free book. “The Learning Curve” takes an unassuming setup — four friends beginning their senior year of college — and spirals outward, drawing sweeping social changes into an intensely personal narrative. ...more
Nina Boutsikaris
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A hefty, juicy book by a skilled novelist who is in control. Berman gets women and the complications of lust, power, loneliness, and empathy aren't lost on her.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a cute, fun book I’d be happy to recommend to my sister or a friend. The characters were engaging and seemed real enough to have been drawn from life.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Book Babe
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Learning Curve, the forthcoming second novel by Mandy Berman, might as well have the subtitle, “a modern parable for the privileged woman,” such is the impression the reader has after finishing this ambitious and, ultimately, frustrating novel.

Among the dizzying amount of information covered in the plot, Berman’s characters navigate personal traumas, sexual politics, frat houses, European countries, visiting professorships, motherhood, alcohol abuse, crushes, failing marriages, f
Courtney Lyn
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Please enjoy additional book reviews & adventures on my blog: The Bull Crabs

A long winded book about a girl finding her ground.

"A love triangle between two college friends and a charismatic professor alters the lives ..." *Possible SPOILER* No. I'm going to say that isn't true. One of the corners of the triangle has a handful of pages where she even interacts with the professor. *End - SPOILER*

Honestly - this book just wasn't the best. It's really a coming of age story for Fi/>
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
When I read the synopsis of The Learning Curve, I immediately knew I wanted to pick it up. I love a good college coming of age story, and that is exactly what this book is. The story follows Fiona, Liv, and Simone and explores each of their relationship to Oliver Ash, an older man who is a famous author and a visiting professor to two of them (Fiona and Liv) and a husband to the other (Simone). The characters grapple with grief, questions of morality, their sexuality, power, masculinity, the patriarch ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A few years back I read another book by the same author. I saw this book come up on a pre release list and the story looked interesting to me. Two friends at a small college in Pennsylvania get involved with a visiting, married professor. The book started off with two characters in Paris and I had no idea how they fit into the story. It took me well into the second chapter to figure out why they were even important. I also didn’t pick up right away Fiona was the same character from the author’s ...more
Kristin Gray
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this Arc copy from Goodreads giveaways

This book to me was a little all over the place. Some of the plot was enjoyable and interesting but other parts dragged on and had way too much detail (literature, classes, books, projects and so forth) for me to read this at a steady pace.

Also I feel like the summary of the book was very misleading. It's like I was waiting for a different plot to happen that never did. I do think the 2nd part of the book was more enjoyable
Sara Molinaro
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book and a few times I actually found myself starting to feel something besides annoyance at the characters. But my God, Fiona is the worst. She's under developed and pretty awful as a main character. She really has nothing to offer. And at times, I felt like some message about femininity was being shoved down my throat but the point was never just there... And so many references to the Holocaust and Jewish suffering. I just don't get it.. Lula and Marley were the best char ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway by the publisher and the author.

I enjoyed this book. I felt that the characters were well developed and I felt for them. It's told from 3 different POV'S. Two are college girls, Fiona and Liv, and the wife, Simone. The main focus is on Fiona and what she has and is going thru.

Even though, I enjoyed the book, I would have liked to see where things went. It kind of left me hanging, wondering what happened with everyone. I th
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
A glimpse inside of life for a group of college seniors, two of whom develop a crush on the same professor, who got in trouble at his last school for having an affair with a student. I thought it was a good read in part, I’m sure, because I work in higher ed. I liked Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons for its look inside the life of a naive college freshmen, and see some of the same themes here, only from the perspective of 21 year olds on the cusp of graduating. And I liked the changing of poin ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Reading the summary, I though this would be the kind of book for me. Smart college girls, a professor with a reputation, discussion of feminism and grief and the struggles of 'real life' - it's all things I like. However, The Learning Curve was just kind of...there for me.

I didn't find the girls all that interesting. Oliver was a dick. Simone....Simone bored me to tears.

Maybe I'm getting too old to be reading about college.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity t
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“It was more like this: the person you wanted, the person you needed, wasn't necessarily the same as the person who was correct.” 0 likes
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