Happy Wednesday everyone!
Back in the winter, I read this post about ways you know you went to St Andrews. It spread like wildfire on FB, being shared and liked by everyone in the St Andrews sphere! There is a book mentioned in this post and I was intrigued. A few weeks later, in one of my fit of St Andrews withdrawal, I bought a PDF version online.
Quick summary: The book is set in a fictitious sea-side Scottish town – clearly inspired by St Andrews, the university and its traditions. It centres mainly around two female undergrads, their relationships and their circle of friends. I can’t say much more without ruining the plot, honestly!
When I started reading it, it felt weird. It was as though I was peaking in a fellow St Andrean’s diary. While I didn’t do my undergrad there and it focuses on undergrad life, it still is exactly the kind of stories you hear about in St Andrews – and perhaps in every universities around the world! It’s all about the academic pressure, social expectations and differences, the gossips, the amazing friendships and other awkward social encounters that life in tiny St Andrews bring.
This is my personal opinion, but I thought it was true to the spirit of the town and university. Sometimes misty and nostalgic and sometimes effervescent with energy. It was also the same with the social aspects of it – whether friendships or relationships. Even though I found some characters unlikeable (pretty much like real life, right? we can’t like everyone!), I really couldn’t wait to see what happened to this group of misfits.
Mangiaforte really goes through an interesting array of characters – representing the different types of students attending the university. She breaks through a lot of stereotypes; however, I do think that sometimes some characters felt like they were drawn with the aid of those stereotypes.
Also, you know when you’re disappointed about the end of a book because you wish they gave you more details? This is what happened to me with this book. It ends in a very open-ended kind of way and I wanted to know more! I wanted it to continue, and to know where it was all heading. I think I wanted it to continue so I could see in my own future. See that everything would be okay. See where me and my friends, who are now all separated, would end up. To know if it would all work out in the end.
I highly identified with the character of Julie – average North American girl who goes to study literature in St Andrews and even loves theatre! And she writes her dissertation on Bildungsroman – which was my first choice of topic for my MLitt dissertation (cough cough after Harry Potter). Not going to lie, identifying with one of the main characters really does help the enjoyment of a book!
One of the best things I found about The Boys Who Wouldn’t Grow Up is that you can really tell Mangiaforte’s background in literature and the influences she’s had. I mean the title itself is based off of Peter Pan, the play by J.M. Barrie (a Scottish novelist and playwright who was also a Rector of the University of St Andrews, if you didn’t know!). As a lit nerd and also an aspiring novelist myself, I really appreciated those references and influences!
Overall, I think I would give the book an 8 out of 10. I highly enjoyed the story, the friendships and the love stories. I loved the mix of drama, nostalgia, eagerness, anxiety and joy that transpired from the novel.
>>This isn’t officially a sponsored post. I wrote the review before I contacted the author. She was nice enough to agree to my giveaway idea and send me two copies of her book for my readers. Which makes it a sponsored giveaway. Thank you Lauren!<<