Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lucky Fools, by Coert Voorhees: Senior Moments

Lucky Fools
by Coert Voorhees
Hyperion, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4231-2398-9
(NetGalley Review Copy)
High school senior David Ellison has everything going for him: a brilliant and beautiful girlfriend, Ellen, fairly decent grades at his elite Bay-area prep-school, and, as usual, the lead in the upcoming school play.  While his classmates are all freaking out because Stanford, along with other elite universities, has changed admission policies and will now only be offering one coveted spot per school, David has his eye on another prize: pursuing his dream to study acting at Julliard.  Tensions around school begin to flare, especially when one by one, seniors thought to be contenders for the Stanford spot begin to have incriminating secrets shared on the college admissions board, all anonymously signed by “The Artist.”  David begins to find himself lying to Ellen, both about writing his college essay, and about spending time with the gorgeous new senior, and his co-star in the show, Vanessa.  To make matters worse, David’s father has hired a private college counselor, because he doesn’t think acting is a viable career.  David is finding himself distracted and is getting stage fright for the first time…just in time for his impending audition for Julliard.   The plot in this story meanders, leaving more gaps than satisfying answers, and the ending is abruptly convenient.  It is probably best for older high school students due to the plot and some partying, though some readers may have trouble identifying with the upper-middle class “worries” David has; purchase if there is room in the budget.  
 I don’t like to be too snarky when reviewing, so I’m going to keep this short.  This book has promise, but unfortunately there are too many things introduced as potentially big plot points that never turn into anything.  It really is a bit all over the place, and the ending…well it feels like a cop-out or afterthought.  SPOILER: I mean…does David even want to go to Stanford?  It really never seems like it, so is it just competition? He doesn’t even seem happy about it. I’m not convinced he does, nor that not getting what you think you want can be a good thing, if you settle/grasp at the next good thing that comes along with no thought except for winning as your guide…yeah.  Also, what does the name even mean? SPOILAGE OVER.
What I will say is that this is, in many ways, a fairly accurate description of what the prep-school college application world is like (the school here is extremely similar to the school I work in).  Yes, these kids are privileged, and really don’t have to think about financial aid/scholarships/etc., so I hesitate to fault Voorhees on this, though it would have been nice to have some…acknowledgement of the comfortable life they lead – private college counselors, tutors, cars, not needing jobs for spending money, etc. – while understanding that yes, this is a reality for some, not all.
Finally, I’d like to end on a positive.  This is the closest I’ve come while reading to the feeling I remember of what being a senior in high school was like: thinking you have all the brains/promise, being filled with hope, and also the belief you fit a certain mold, the having of a crazy awesome metabolism, and a sudden, unexpected sense of nostalgia, mixed with a desire to get out and get on with the great unknown.  This of course, always seems to manifest itself in uniting disparate groups of kids/cliques at parties or in the halls, who are suddenly realizing they may never be with again (for better or for worse).  Ahh, seniors.  Well done on this count, Voorhees. 

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