She Just Can’t Get Ahead: Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta

Two important things of note right at the top: I didn’t read “Election,” and I love Tom Perrotta.

To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t gotten around to “Election” yet — I think my first Perrotta read was “Little Children” and because I tend to move forward to keep up, it’s been long stalled in my TBR list.

But when I got the ARC for “Tracy Flick Can’t Win” I was fairly certain I didn’t need to have any preconceived notions of the main character to enjoy his upcoming release.

Because Tom Perrotta does not disappoint.

I like Tom Perrotta because I find his writing to be immensely engaging, whether it’s something heavily contemporary (see “Mrs. Fletcher“) or absolutely mystifying and heartwrenching (see the fantastical “The Leftovers“). Given that, and from what I remember of the Reese Witherspoon/Matthew Broderick flick, I already knew chances were good I’d find myself entertained.

Again, Tom Perrotta does not disappoint.

“Tracy Flick Can’t Win,” out June 7th, is a quick read — so you can commit knowing you won’t be lugging around the same book for weeks on end. Once you sit down and turn the first page, you want to know what’s going on with Tracy, along with the myriad characters that also serve as narrators. Readers bounce from Principal Jack Weede to school board president Kyle Dorfman, ex-football star Vito Falcone, to present day high school seniors Nate Cleary and Lily Chu, each offering their own perspective on the race to become a founding member of the Green Meadow High School Hall of Fame.

Tracy is still trying to grab the brass ring — in this case, ascension to principal of GMHS after years serving in the Number Two role. But as she quickly learns, life just isn’t fair. I don’t know that it’s intentional, but it’s a central theme in Perrotta’s work — the almost uncanny ability of the universe to punish and reward indiscriminately.

Is life truly, ever, fair?

With this latest release, I am back to wondering what’s next from Perrotta and when I can get my hands on it. In the meantime, enjoy “Tracy Flick Can’t Win” even if it means wondering if Witherspoon will reprise the role. And maybe, given the climax of the story, count your blessings and be grateful if you weren’t the most popular person in your high school class.

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