Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Last of Her Kind

In one of the most tumultuous years in American history (1968), two freshman girls from distinctly different backgrounds become roommates at Barnard. Georgette George, on academic scholarship and running away from her impoverished upbringing, can't believe how Dooley [Ann] Drayton, from the moneyed confines of Connecticut, shows nothing but contempt for her background and her parents.

Who is this enigmatic white bread debutante with the romantic ideals that she can rescue the downtrodden, the mistreated, and the ostracized?

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez follows Georgette's complicated relationship with Ann. After a misunderstanding of huge proportions, the two go their separate ways until Georgette is brought back into Ann's realm when Ann fatally shoots a policeman and receives a life sentence.

Coupled with Ann's craziness is Georgette's own young sister, who ran away at fifteen, only to resurface in Georgette's life, burdened with mental illness and drug addictions.

Woven into the background of the novel are the historical events of the time -- the unrest on college campuses due to the Vietnam war, Woodstock, the movement of young people across country in the late 1960s, the underground groups like the Weathermen and the SLA.

Nunez seems to have such an honest view of the time period. Within the novel, her keen eye for the details of what propelled the events that had such importance to America --- the idealism of a youth culture that ended up being too much to be sustained -- makes this book one I will recommend to others.

Wingate: I'm buying you this book for Christmas. :-)

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