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416 pages, Paperback
First published September 1, 2018
"The thing is, Lis," he said, in the slow voice that meant he was about to say something incisive and possibly devastating, "you have no marketable skills, not one."
"But I'm doing all these activities," I said, "and I get A's!" And yet even as I said it — the newspaper, the mock trial, the fact that I'd worked at a lab over the summer, and took Japanese — I wilted. I got his point. The confection of extracurricular activities, the flurry of self-importance — it was just a fever dream. No one hires someone for being on a debate team. I had not impressed him or fooled him. He knew all this stuff wasn't worth much, and he was worried for my future.
I assumed that activities led to other activities in a ladder ascending to adult responsibility. I wasn't supposed to be prepared for an adult job. Others seemed to think that too. At the same time, because he spoke with authority, and because I had been hoping to impress him, and because he was famous and successful and knew about the world, the remark was devastating ... We all made allowances for his eccentricities, the ways he attacked other people, because he was also brilliant, and sometimes kind and insightful. Now I felt he'd crush me if I let him. He would tell me how little I meant over and over until I believed it. What use was his genius to me?