Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

David and Sarah are two students at a prestigious arts school. Over the summer they embark on a hot and heavy affair. But when school starts back the pressure of being boyfriend and girlfriend breaks them. Mr. Kingsley, their acting teacher, knows what's gone on between them and uses it in a trust exercise in the class for weeks on end. But neither David nor Sarah will be the first to give in.

Meanwhile, a troupe of British student actors come over for an extended visit and infiltrate the groups in the school, and embark on romantic relationships. Relationships are twisted, pulled, snapped, and then...

Twenty years later, Sarah has written a novel about a teen at a prestigious arts school. And a friend who was a minor character in the first part is standing outside City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco as Sarah gives a reading, trying to decide whether or not to confront her. And tell her that she's now working on a play with David.

I know this book is supposed to be amazing and oodles of people I respect are raving over it, but it just didn't work for me. The first half felt icky and gratuitous. Then the narrative shift was so abrupt and I saw the ending coming from a mile away. Overall it didn't work for me. However I seem to be in the minority. Decide for yourself.

This book is published by Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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