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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Two by Perrotta: Tracy Flick Can't Win and Mrs. Fletcher

Here are a couple of great summer reads by Tom Perrotta, a master novelist who takes you deep into characters, but not too broad into plot, so you can refill your margarita or take a dip in the pool without forgetting where you left off. Recommended for men and women, midlife and beyond!

Tracy Flick Can't Win

Studious, diligent Tracy Flick, didn't get to walk the career path she had planned for herself. Due to a family member's illness and possibly an early #MeToo ordeal, Tracy leaves Georgetown law school and ends up single, virtually friendless, and the Assistant Principal at Green Meadow High School.

"I started my meditation practice four years ago, after I was diagnosed with hypertension.... I didn't love it at first. It went against my most basic inclination, which was to always be doing something."

Tracy enjoys her job and is great at it, but she is ambitious and tough, and wants more. When the Principal position suddenly becomes available, Tracy launches a quiet campaign to win the promotion by becoming more visible and social. She is recruited to join the committee to select two alumni to become the first inductees to the school’s new Hall of Fame, a project she regards as low priority for the school, but necessary for her to join in order to gain a wider support base.

Though Tracy had been led to believe that she is a “shoo-in” for principal by the President of the School Board amongst others, as the committee meetings and interviews progress, she begins to question whether she is the favored candidate for the job:

“For several days after my interview [with the Superintendent] I was dogged by a feeling of unease, a sense--a premonition almost—that in spite of all my hard work and meticulous preparation, I might be headed for another defeat.”

The plot takes some twists including a shocking event leaves everyone on the committee upended.

Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta is told mainly via the voices of five of the main characters, as if each is giving testimony in court or on a reality show, and it works beautifully with a full cast including Lucy Liu as Tracy Flick, for the audiobook.

Hardcover 272 pages, Audiobook 6 hours


Mrs. Fletcher

“As a straight, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical, first-world, middle-class white woman, she struggled to maintain a constant awareness of her privilege, and to avoid using it to silence or ignore the voices of those without the same unearned advantages....”

I am always skeptical of books written by men about a woman's experience, but Perrotta does a pretty good job of exploring a divorced middle-aged woman's sexual reawakening after her son leaves the nest for college.

Divorcée Eve Fletcher decides to take a course on "Gender and Society" at a community college, and receives an anonymous text that says, "U R my MILF!" which leads her to a porn site called, to which she promptly becomes addicted.

As with Tracy Flick, Mrs. Fletcher can be a bit raunchy at times, but I liked the way the book explores various forms of sexuality in an open, nonjudgemental format. I liked all of the characters and enjoyed witnessing their process toward maturity, self-love and understanding.

"She was there to show the world what happiness and freedom looked like. You glowed with it. You did exactly what you wanted to. And whatever costume you wore, you were still yourself, unique and beautiful and unmistakable for anyone else.”

Hardcover 309 Pages, Audiobook 8 hours, 30 mins.


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