I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.
Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be published August 2nd, 2016, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
I really disliked this book, but not because I didn’t understand it. I did understand what the author was going for; I just didn’t think he achieved it. The longer I blog, the more convinced I become that execution is everything, and this book wasn’t executed properly. There were so many things I wanted to see come together, and they didn’t. In some ways, I felt like the story did understand how hard it is to get into a prestigious university.
But in many ways, I felt like this story didn’t know about how hard it is at all.
Now, as a disclaimer to that statement, I know the author is a Hopkins and Stanford alumnus, and I have a lot of respect for that. This doesn’t reflect how I feel about the author, and I have nothing against him. However, having experience doesn’t automatically make you a great writer.
Most of the time, I wasn’t at all focused on the story. I was focused on how dislikable Reshma is. Yeah, I get that she’s an antihero, but people can be determined and still be decent. She’s not even cutthroat. She’s just a jerk in general, to everyone. She doesn’t change as far I as could see. Some authors can pull off those kinds of characters, but Reshma’s personality was ultimately the reason why I had to stop reading.
Another note on that before I move on. If I could’ve truly felt Reshma’s desperation to succeed, then I could’ve sympathized with her. Through this story, I hoped that Kanakia would make a statement about the pressure on students, about what school can be (incredible), about the kids who sacrifice too much to get to their dream colleges. I didn’t feel any of that.
The writing was incredibly forced, and it made it sound contrived. The words didn’t flow smoothly, and there were only flickers of time when I had any meaningful connection with Reshma.
The other main reason why I had to stop reading was because of the plot. The pace moved so slowly, I had to take several breaks from this one in the attempt to finish it. When I returned, what happened was so unmemorable that I had to go back to find out what was going on.
I have more to say about how the process of getting an agent was handled, but long story short, Enter Title Here was disappointing. It had a lot of potential, and it ended up falling short. When I began the book, I had two main stipulations for recommending it. The first was if it was deep.
If it was, I was going to recommend it to people who aspire to get into great colleges. The story it could’ve been could have been amazing for some people I know. There’s nothing deep about this story or its main character.
The second was if it was entertaining. Some people have said it’s hilarious. I mean, there are maybe one or two clever/cruel lines throughout the book that are remotely funny?
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend it. To anyone.
That being said, taste in writing and humor and entertainment and what is a good antihero differs a lot. If this sounds like the kind of book you could sympathize with, maybe it’s the story for you. A lot of personal feelings got involved in the reading of Enter Title Here, on my part mostly because I’m still a student and this is my reality. By all means, I encourage you to try it, but it wasn’t the book I was looking for.