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review: “an off year” March 30, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.

An Off Year by Claire Zulkey.
Dutton Juvenile // Hardcover // 304 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Cecily had a plan — after graduating high school, she was set for college. But when she arrived at college for her move-in day, her plans changed. Cecily didn’t want to be there. So, she moved back home for a year, planning on taking a year off to figure out exactly what she wanted in life. The problem is she has no idea what she wants and no idea how to get it. For now, she’s content with sitting around.

This novel really surprised me with its honesty about one of the hardest transitions for teens — the transition from teenagedom to adulthood. And I think this is an area of YA that is just beginning to be explored; one that needs to be explored further.

I also thought that the novel might get to be a little boring if all Cecily was doing was waiting to figure things out. But outside influences in her life (her family, her friends, a therapist) really to the story, making it well rounded and not a completely internal dialogue.

I really connected with Cecily as a character. I feel like everyone has that moment in their lives when they look as the expected path laid out for them and wonder why they’re doing what they’re doing. I didn’t take any years off between high school, college, and graduate school — sometimes I really wish I had!

And it has to be mentioned — the novel takes place in Chicago and I still get a thrill out of reading books that are written in my hometown. Zulkey did a great job describing the area and I definitely felt like I was around the Rogers Park/Evanston area…even if the novel doesn’t come right out and say it.

Younger teens will probably be less interested in this title, but I definitely think this will work well with high school seniors/college freshmen.

SWAN catalog
Claire Zulkey




1. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - March 31, 2010

This sounds really unusual, which is strange now I come to think about it – a lot of teens, especially the readerly ones, are likely to be thinking about these issues at some point, but YA rarely covers them. I think I could’ve done with a book like this when I first started uni. I think Cecily’s situation sounds really relateable.

2. Spotlight on New Adult Literature: An Off Year | Reclusive Bibliophile - December 8, 2011

[…] Read What You Know […]

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