It’s hard to like Regina, who at first gets away with her messy, selfish acts that hurt other people because she’s young, or naive, or very possibly in love. Another thing she has going for her is her incredibly funny, witty, and insightful narrative voice. But that would mean I’m actually judging Susan Choi's book on its merits, instead of just being emotionally impacted by its characters… :) Well...
As time goes on, as it does in the novel for another fifteen or so years, you wonder what she has indeed learned from her “education.” A propensity for committing continuously selfish acts that jeopardize relationships? Is her final act of matching two people who may have once loved each other (and in so doing validating their previously selfish act of betrayal) one that is supposed to absolve her of anything? She exhibits such little moral restraint throughout the first half of the book and such little remorse throughout the entire book, that I’m led to ask:
What good is an education if you don’t learn from it at all?
Maybe any book that incites such strong reaction from its readers is a successful one. In the end, though, it becomes clear that Regina has in fact learned - just not the way we expected (or wanted?). The book is full of surprises like that, and plays with our stereotypes and expectations. Alas, like children who learn to embody the flaws of their parents, Regina has indeed received and fully absorbed an education: in how to be a flawed, hurtful adult, from two very flawed, and very hurtful adults. Her own parents, it seems, had been too happy, too perfect for one another. The material things in these people’s lives have turned out well because they can read and write smartly (and produce clever narratives for themselves and others) - they have farms, sell novels, gain tenure. But in the end, they fall back into each others’ complicated embraces. Regina vows that they are out of her life for good at the end. But I doubt they are.
I had purchased this book in my Kindle almost a year ago, but hesitated to read it because I hate reading books in Kindle. But I had no paperbacks to read and was too lazy to go to the bookstore! The first section of the book is a bit slow, or perhaps you just imagine it's too cliche. Boy does it take a turn and lead you down a path you didn't expect.