book review: An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

The basics: An Uncommon Education, Elizabeth Percer's first novel, is a coming of age novel centered around Naomi Feinstein.

My thoughts: As An Uncommon Education opens, Naomi Feinstein is a peculiar girl with a big intellect and no friends, yet her tale isn't one of sadness. There's a matter-of-factness to Naomi and her honest narration. She writes both of the time in which she's living and with a maturity of observation:

"For entertainment I was given such things as Infamous Women coloring book; Shakespeare's plays in comic book fro; my own miniature Torah, the scroll of which was covered in wavy black lines; historically correct figures of Clara Barton and Abigail Adams; math games made pretty with glass marbles; and a jump rope with a booklet of illustrated counting rhymes to accompany it. In addition to our regular visits to the Kennedy home, every April 19th we drove to Lexington before dawn to witness the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord; every July 4th we walked the Freedom Trail."
At times, I would forget how young Naomi was in the story. As the story moves through time, I settled back into Naomi's growth. Because this novel is so character-driven, parts of Naomi's journey are unsurprising, yet these events still aren't predictable. As Naomi, an intellectual, driven child, has a road map for her life: first Wellesley, then medical school to become a cardiologist, the possibility of her choosing a new path still exists. The curiosity Naomi possesses was fascinating to watch. Percer's writing is strong and fluid, and it entranced me even when Naomi's story slowed a few times.

Favorite passage: "Sometimes that, more than anything, was what made me saddest about the little I knew about my family; it could be worked into almost any story, like a party trick."

The verdict: An Uncommon Education is an eloquent, thoughtful coming of age story. It begins as an intellectual coming of age, but Naomi's journey is as fascinating emotionally as her uncommon education.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 368 pages
Publication date: May 1, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy An Uncommon Education from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)

Want more? Check out the entire tour schedule, visit Elizabeth's web site, or like her on Facebook.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. Ok, I wasn't actually sure what this novel was about when I read a short summary of it on another page. It sounds a bit quirky and something I'd really like. Have you read the Flavia de Luce novels? It just seems a little similar. However, those might be a little more humorous than this one. I just signed up for my first TLC tour to review at the end of this month and am pretty excited. Great review, Carrie!

  2. I like the ideas behind this one, and that passage that you quoted really gives me a good feel for what the book is like, and about. I'm not sure if I would have naturally gravitated towards this one, but I am glad that you made me see the light on it. It sounds very insightful and fantastic! Nice review today!!

  3. I read this one when it came out in hardcover, and like it, but didn't love it. Glad it worked a better for you.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed Naomi's story. Thanks for being on the tour!

  5. From the way The Uncommon Education sounds, it reminds me of The Giant's House. Are you going to pick a backlist book for February? You can email me and let me know.

  6. Great post! I hadn't heard of this one before and it sounds really good, I'll definitely put it on my TBR!

  7. I just started this one and I'm enjoying it so far. I'm looking forward to where Naomi's story goes!


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