Cover Image: Tracy Flick Can't Win

Tracy Flick Can't Win

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Tracy Flick is back! She's an assistant principal, up for the principalship, a single mother, and not doing so hot on the dating scene. 

The high school students, staff, and school board are all unlikeable, showing another way Tracy Flick isn't winning.

I wasn't expecting Tracy's life to be so humdrum, neither did Tracy. I needed to know what happened to her. There's no grand comeuppance, and no rock bottom. Tracy Flick is just fine,

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Thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for the ebook. Tracy Flick is back and somehow she didn’t become the President of the United States, but ended up the assistant principal of a high school in suburban New Jersey. This book has such a rich cast of characters by the author who has become one of the great chroniclers of the various neuroses of the middle aged, upwardly mobile suburbanite.
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Tracy Flick, the heroine of Perrota’s Election (which I did not read) is vice principal of a high school in New Jersey and in the running to replace the retiring principal. All she has to do is play the political game and, of course, like football.  

This is a very fast, entertaining read.  Some may see it as satire, but, having worked in a school environment, I found it quite realistic in terms of experiences, relationships, and politics.

Told from various POVs, it is witty, nostalgic, sad, and scary.  As the adults look back on their pasts, we see the evolution of student and sexual behavior and misbehavior through the last thirty years, poignant reminders of high school bullying, and the wistfulness of looking back at lost opportunities.
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I wanted to love this book in the way that I love Election--for the dark, satirical, and often "I really shouldn't be laughing at this" humor. For some reason, though, this one just didn't land in the same way. I think there's something really special about Tracy Flick as a teenager and Tracy as an adult wasn't as compelling a character. I couldn't buy into this storyline in the way that I could the original. The writing is good, the book is objectively a good one, but I unfortunately did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I think folks who are looking for a great sequel to Election might be a bit disappointed, but reading this as a one-off experience would probably be pretty enjoyable.
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Published by Scribner on June 7, 2022

Tracy Flick, the protagonist in Tom Perrotta’s Election, did not grow up to be president because life does not always cooperate with ambition. She is an assistant principal at Green Meadow High School. Thanks to a weekend affair, she has a daughter named Sophie. Tracy is dating an older orthopedic surgeon who is starting to become a bit clingy.

Tracy’s goal is to project the image that she is competent and trustworthy so that she will be elevated to the principal’s job when Jack Weede retires. Tracy worries that she reeks of Eau de Loser, having failed to win the principal’s job at three other schools.

Weede will be retiring soon to travel to with his cancer survivor wife, much to the dismay of Front Desk Diane, the secretary at the front desk who used to shag Weede in his office. School board member Kyle Dorfman tells Tracy that she’s a shoe-in for the job, but Tracy knows that nothing in life is certain.

Tom Perrotta’s novels are driven by amusing characters. Thanks to a one-hit-wonder app, Dorfman, unlike most residents of Green Meadow, has money. That explains his presence on the school board. He easily convinced the board to let him fund a Green Meadow Hall of Fame. The first candidate (other than Dorfman himself) is Vito Falcone, a school bully who was the school’s only notable athlete, having played a couple of years in the NFL. Choosing a jock, Tracy thinks, is “the most obvious and depressing choice in the world,” but she’s not about to make waves. As part of his twelve-step program, Vito is apologizing to all the people he harmed. It’s a long list.

Other nominees for membership include a student who died in Vietnam, a student who prevailed in a sandwich eating contest, and a successful car salesman. The committee rules out the only other noteworthy jock because he got charged with a crime for fighting a white cop who didn’t want a black guy dating his sister.

One of the members of the committee to choose Hall of Fame inductees is a student named Lily Chu. She has a relationship with someone named Clem who uses “they” as an identifying pronoun. Lily needs to keep them from meeting her conservative parents, who think Clem is a girl named Amelia.

Ultimately, Tracy’s story, like Vito’s, is one of “squandered promise” — their best years were their high school years, with so much potential ahead, all unrealized. That would be (and has been) a strong premise for a deeper novel, but Tracy Flick Can't Win isn't a novel that attempts serious depth.

The loose plot that holds the characters together is Tracy’s quest to become a principal. Tracy’s life history is one of being stabbed in the back by people she trusted. Whether that will happen again seems to be the question that drives the plot until it doesn’t. Perrotta splinters off a number of apparent subplots that remain undeveloped or exist for no reason, never becoming subplots at all.

The story and characters are sufficently entertaining to earn my recommendation, although the recommendation comes with some warnings, including the frustration of a splitered plot. More importantly, the novel takes a surprisingly dark turn at the end (surprising for a Perrotta novel, anyway), perhaps as a reminder that high schools these days can be dark places. Given the lightness of the story until that point, the ending is a bit too jarring to be satisfying. Had its antededents been explored in greater depth, the ending might have a success. An epilog attempts to reassure the reader that Tracy Flick Can't Win is more light than dark, but the epilog seems to be tacked on to please readers. At least Perrotta avoided the sin of predictability.

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From president of the student council in the first Tracy Flick book, Election, to Vice Principal in this book, Tracy is doomed to be in high school forever despite her lofty aspirations.   Ultimately, this book takes the social issues raised in the first book and filters them with a modern lens.  

In a book chat with friends, we all agreed that this read almost as a screenplay for a future movie. The introduction of so many characters and storylines could even be seen as a script for a tv series. I’d be happy to see either come to life.
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QUICK TAKE: Tracy Flick is back at it, this time aiming for the role of high school principal rather than student body president, and yet again fighting against skewed agendas for a role she should be a shoe in for.

There was a lot to unpack with this one and I'm not sure if given the current events in the United States it is bad timing for this publication or perfect timing. There are a lot of elements of trying to stay relevant and keeping up with your own expectations, while also comparing the glory days and missed opportunities to your current reality. There is a strong focus on how our past tragedies and traumas shape our future selves.

This story is much darker than I remember Election being, maybe because I'm only remembering the movie, but I think it definitely warrants a re-read (just got it from the library, so stay tuned!). It's a quick read, was entertaining throughout and if you're a fan of Election and want to see where Tracy Flick finds herself in her middle years of life, I'd highly recommend it.

Please check the content warnings prior to reading as there are certain scenes in this book that may be triggering for readers, especially in light of the current events in the United States.


Thank you @scribnerbooks and @netgalley for the free advanced digital copy!
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Thank you to Scribner for providing a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pub date: 6/7/22
Genre: general fiction
In one sentence: Tracy Flick is assistant principal at her old high school and the leading candidate for the principal job - but it seems there's always something in her way...

I requested this book since I was familiar with Tracy Flick from the movie and book Election. I liked that this was a short read that helped readers reconnect to Tracy - her fire and drive to succeed are still present. Some of the events from Election are recast here in the light of the #MeToo movement, and I appreciated that reflection. However, the book was a bit meandering and disjointed at points, so it ended up being only a 3 star read for me.
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Tom Perotta is an author I’ve loved since high school. His books spoke to me and he’s from my home state of New Jersey. Joe College was one of my favorite books I read in college (it’s where I learned what Kimchi was!). His most famous book is Election, which was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon in an absolutely iconic role and Matthew Broderick as her teacher. The novel and movie are both incredible works of art. 

Tom has written a sequel starting one of his most famous characters, Tracy Flick, in a new novel 22 years after the original story. In Tracy Flick can’t win, she’s an assistant principal of a NJ HS, with a 10 yr old daughter she can’t quite relate to, and a sort of boyfriend she’s not really into. When her principal announces his retirement, Tracy thinks she’s a shoo-in for the role. But  nothing is ever easy for Tracy.

Tracy is put on a task force to help elect a Hall of Fame for the school and this brings a new cast of characters. The story is told my many POVs which I loved in this novel. I think reading different points of view really added a few layers of depth. The end of the book is definitely a twist I didn’t see coming, but it makes sense with the rest of the story. 

You really can’t go wrong with a Perotta book. There’s a reason so many of his books have gone on to become tv shows and movies. He is an incredibly talented writer who gets suburban life just right. 

Thank you so much to @scribnerbooks, and @dartfroggco for my gifted copy and amazing Tracy Flick goodies! The book is on sale now and it’s worth the read to see where Tracy is now.
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I loved Election and Tracy Flick Can't Win takes the same multiple POV narration and places the story decades past the events of Election and in a post Me Too movement world.
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This is a sequel to Perrotta’s beloved Election, taking place many years later. Tracy is all grown up and is now the assistant principal and a high school in New Jersey. She is delighted when the principal announces his retirement, leaving a door open for Tracy to get promoted. Tracy’s life is full and complicated: she has a daughter, a boyfriend and interests beyond the scope of school. Working at a school has brough back some unpleasant memories from her own high school experience. This book will delight most nostalgic fans of Election, if you’re willing to be taken along for a ride through her ruminations about the past. While I have a fondness for Tracy Flick, this novel felt, at times, unfocused and left me feeling uninvested. Thank you to Scribner for the advanced review copy.
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This book is a sequel to Tom Perrotta’s Election, which before it was a movie with a very young Reese Witherspoon, was a book - a bit of a satire about multiple characters including Tracy Flick, a high school senior gunning for class president. The book came out, and I read it, all the way back in 1998!

Now, more than two decades later, Perrotta wrote this book, also set mostly around a high school, now one where Tracy Flick is the vice principal, and told from many perspectives including various other people who work at the school and who are or were students there.

This book is less satirical - it feels in some ways like the author’s reckoning with the ways in which some parts of Election have not aged well. So this is definitely a different take on things like me too, LGBTQ teens, and more. Though there is still definitely social commentary. I definitely appreciated the different take on Tracy’s character, though this book also made me feel sad because of what has happened to her - but I love that she’s much more fleshed out emotionally here. There were probably too many characters and a little too much going on in this book overall, but it was very readable.

3.75 stars
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As a huge fan of the movie Election I could not wait to dig into Tracy Flick Can't Win. Tracy, to me, is a love to hate type of character. When we last visited Tracy she was in Washington DC pursuing her dreams, and likely seeking world domination. As we revisit her she is now a single mom/ assistant principal working at Green Meadow High School. Deep down, and somewhat on the surface, Tracy is the same old character we got to know all those years ago. 
In addition to Tracy there are a whole slew of supporting characters that help to tell the story of the first ever Green Meadow High School Hall of Fame. The schools principal, current students, and alumni all give us glimpses into their lives and the behind the scenes tidbits leading up to the ceremony. I enjoyed all the different perspectives. The writing is great. The ceremony itself took a sharp turn and left me shocked...not in a good way. This book is dark comedy, quirky, and does not sugar coat in the least bit. 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars. Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for a copy of Tom Perrotta’s Tracy Flick Can’t Win. 

Perrotta returns to one of his most memorable characters, Tracy Flick, in this sequel to his best-selling novel, Election. In Tracy Flick Can’t Win, we find Flick in her forties,  a divorced single-mother working as a high school vice-principal. When the long-time principal announces his upcoming retirement, Flick starts the interview process for the promotion. Her strong work-ethic, high morals, and innovative ideas still can’t manage to eclipse her inability to connect on a social level. Just like in high school, Flick sees her dreams slipping away as more popular/less qualified candidates take center stage. 

Perrotta is one of my favorite authors and Election is one of my favorite books. I was thrilled that Perrotta was bringing back Tracy Flick. You do not have to read Election  to enjoy Tracy Flick Can’t Win, however, I highly recommend it. This sequel was really written for fans and having the context of Flick’s struggles in her teen years, makes the sequel more poignant. Flick becomes an everyone woman in her struggles, as she faces many micro aggressions and flat-out dismissals from the men in the story. As a woman, reading this felt like a jab from a sharp needle and it make me recall times in my life where I suffered similar treatment. Flick isn’t a likable character. If I met her in real life, I’d find her to be very grating. However, she is also a person who suffers a lot of misfortune and who tries to do the right thing, only to see that she really can’t win. This makes me root for her to succeed.

Tracy Flick Can’t Win is not Perrotta’s finest work, but it is certainly a book that I wanted to read. It was the 2022 new book release that I was most excited to read. Fans are going to be thrilled and if you’re a fan, you must read it. It did not disappoint. I’d love a third Flick sequel or maybe a follow-up to another character from Election.
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Tracy Flick definitely won with this book. I didn't know I needed a follow-up to Election until I read this and I am so glad I did. As a fan of Election, I had high expectations and Tom Perrotta lived up to those expectations and then some. 
Some parts of Tracy's life did surprise me, based on what I had imagined her life to be like after Election. Despite being slightly surprised by many things, they all seemed to work and stay true to her character. Tracy's personality felt very much the same with just a more mature take on it now that she's an adult. I really loved where this story went and the different view points from other characters. It made for a very quick read that felt fun to keep seeing what would happen next.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one and will be reading more of my Perrotta backlist ASAP.
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I've enjoyed many of Tom Perrotta's books and was a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon's take on Tracy Flick. Tracy Flick Can't Win picks up with Tracy in her 40's, working as an assistant principal at Green Meadow High School. Tracy is still ambitious and driven, but life hasn't turned out quite the way she expected. Lovers of Election and black comedy/satire will enjoy this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for this ARC.
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Tracy is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in New Jersey. When her principal annouces his retirement, Tracy feels she is deservedly next in line even though she feel unappreciated for all her work.  She is energized, and wants to prove her worth.  Shtill is managing her personal life and that of her 10 year old daughter and a boyfriend. One of the school board members decides to start a Hall of Fame and puts Tracy on the committee. Thus starts the self doubt, who really are her friends and will she get the job she richly deserves.  This book is drak at time, comedic and uplifting.  You will fall in love with Tracy.
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Perrotta is so damn great at capturing the absurdity of the every man, the human behind all the daily nine to five shifts, the complete and utter misinterpretations of life, and turning it into a totally page-turning, laugh out loud drama. I have to say that Election by Perrotta is a blind spot of mine. However I have read a fair amount of his books like Mrs. Fletcher and Little Children, the latter a favorite. Tracy Flick Can't Win is classic Perrota voice -- the comedy edgy, the situations uncomfortable, and the consequences just keep rolling through. Perrota makes it look easy.
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Tracy Flick Can't Win is Tom Perrotta's latest novel, and, to my knowledge, first sequel. As the title suggests, Perrotta's newest book follows the antiheroine (or just plain heroine in some eyes) from his 90s novel, Election. As usual, Perotta captures suburban ennui excellently, but the compelling Tracy Flick often feels like a secondary character in this eponymous sequel. 

Tracy Flick, now in her mid-forties, is the vice principal for a north Jersey suburban high school. As in Election, she is vying for a higher role for which she is perhaps overqualified, this time as a principal. Other characters in the novel include an alcoholic former football star returning to his hometown to recapture his glory days, a former SF tech entrepreneur and school board member, and a Tracy Flick-like high school junior with big aspirations and a budding queer relationship. As in Election, these characters are all involved in some capacity in the selection of a new principal (as well as the selection of inductees into a new "hall of fame' at the high school where Tracy works).

Like Election, Tracy Flick Can't Win is a tight, quick read that emphasizes a certain malaise in middle income suburbia. Perrotta has become a master of this subgenre of fiction, and does a good job painting a picture of this town and its residents. It does seem like Tracy Flick was simply planted into the book as a marketing ploy, and feels less like a continuation of Election and her story. Perrotta also doesn't succeed in making the case for why this story matters now. There are of course recontextualizations of Tracy's actions from Election in light of the Me Too Era, but those evaluations are fairly shallow and don't encompass a large part of the book's themes. Ultimately, I found the book enjoyable, if not necessarily fulfilling and lacking some depth. Fans of Perrotta will enjoy this, and I imagine that some fans of Election will find things to like here.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for an ARC of this title.

I haven't actually read Election, where Tracy Flick first appears, but it feels like her character is something I've absorbed through cultural osmosis - driven, precocious high-schooler - that's become the template for so many other characters like her in greater media. Tom Perrotta's decided to revisit where she's at years later, and this is a lovely bit of farce, introducing all of the characters, setting up the situation where everything will go awry, and standing back to watch what happens.

The book's fantastically written in a way that will make you go "well, just one more chapter" until you've finished the dang thing and it's way past your bedtime. You can kind of see where things are going right up until the end, where there's a shake-up I didn't see coming that sets everything up for a smooth landing.
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