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Tracy Flick Can't Win

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I absolutely loved this book!  I have read other books by Tom Perrotta and have always admired his writing and his ability to write different characters from their unique perspectives.  I had not read "Election" the first book in which we are introduced to Tracy Flick but did see the movie and really liked it. I actually  may go back and read the book "Election."  I loved the structure of this book - it alternates between different characters and different secrets and in some cases past traumas are revealed as the story unfolds.  There is humor in the book but mostly there is incredible poignancy.  This book is a prescient statement about the times in which we live and the end packs a punch.  I could not put this book down and highly recommend it!  Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Did we need to know what Tracy Flick has been up to? Sure, why not? I was disappointed she didn’t get far and frankly found that a little surprising. 

I did like the idea of her grappling with Metoo after her relationship with her teacher when she was 15. It reminded me of Jill Ciment’s talk about how she is thinking back about her marriage to her high school teacher and the fond memoir of her marriage that she had written years ago. I would have liked more depth here. 

I also don’t know why they bothered having her have a daughter? Talk about an after thought! She was barely mentioned. 

Honestly, I think this could have been a short story. It was not bad but there wasn’t much to it.
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I loved revisiting with Tracy Flick from Tom Perrotta's novel Election that came out in 1998. It's interesting that she's a mom now, although we don't get to see much of her 10-yo daughter or their interaction, and also she's single and very much inside her own head, so mostly we see her struggling internally. The main theme throughout this story is unfulfilled childhood promise. I'm glad there is review of Tracy's high school years because I don't remember or didn't realize how she had been groomed so evilly by her sophomore English teacher. Tracy Flick Can't Win is based solidly in Green Meadow, NJ mostly at the high school where Tracy is now Assistant Principal. The alternating plot lines with other characters recognizable from Tracy's past are artfully paced and come together with a crash at the end. I like that there is diversity, different chapters told from differing points of view including Lily Chiu's; and though we don't really get to know any of the Black alumni or school staff, they exist and they matter.
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Tracy Flick is back and she gets her just desserts! The star of Perrotta's book, Election, is now the Vice Principal of Green Meadow High School. With the Principal poised to retire, Tracy is ripe to become the fearless leader they all need. But a lot of things seem to be conspiring against her (AGAIN!) and it just might not be Tracy's turn to win at life. Short and sweet and well-written, this novel was highly enjoyable. The story is told from several perspectives, not just Tracy's, and we get an overall sense of the unfairness of life for our heroine. 

*Special thanks to NetGalley and the Simon&Schuster for this e-arc.*
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Tracy Flick Can't Win is a long awaited sequel to Election, which was made into a movie in 1999. In this book, we learn what Tracy Flick has been up to for the best twenty-odd years. Tom Perrotta has such a punchy way of writing. He doesn't mince words and is so entertaining. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this town and their misdeeds. The characters are written in very different ways so it's easy to follow the story even though there are so many included. I enjoyed getting to know and sometimes hating the characters and decisions made in this small town high school. Perfect if you're looking for a funny quick read! 

Thank you Scribner and NetGalley for providing this ARC. All thoughts are my own.
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This rating is not a reflection of the book or its quality. Rather the low rating indicated this title was removed from my personal TBR list in anticipation of other titles. I do think it is important to note that other novels took precedent over this one and as a result I will not be reading.
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It was fun seeing Tracy Flick as an adult after reading/watching Election. Much like Election, I think this would be a better movie than book, but I still enjoyed my time with it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free e-copy.
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Tracy Flick all grown up? Yes, please! 

It's not always that we readers get to return to the story of a beloved character, so when the chance is offered, I'm always thrilled. I tore through this book, grateful to be in Tom Perrotta's very capable hands.  An engaging, fun read, well-worth adding to your summer TBR pile.
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I ended my review of Tom Perrotta’s last novel, Mrs. Fletcher with this sentiment: “I like Perrotta, believe it or not. But his instincts hold him back. He’s written Mrs. Fletcher at least three times before–and better. It’s high time to explore new ground.” You can imagine, then, that when it was announced that Perrotta’s next book would be a sequel to Election, the 1998 novel that made him famous, I had very mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it’s the opposite of what I wanted. Instead of breaking new ground, Perrotta was literally running to the past. And Tracy Flick is a complicated character. Election is one of those cases where a film adaptation practically redefines how a property is perceived. When people talk about Tracy Flick, it’s virtually guaranteed that they aren’t talking about Perrotta’s book. Instead, they’re talking about Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick. One had to wonder: which version will Perrotta really be revisiting?

On the other hand, Election is Perrotta’s most durable novel. Other works of his have been adapted before, but they didn’t capture the zeitgeist in the same way.  Election, a slim novel told from multiple perspectives centering around a campaign for president of the student government at a New Jersey high school, has proven to be Perrotta’s greatest success. However, one does wonder how much of Election‘s durability comes from the film adaptation. I won’t really get into that because it doesn’t suit our purposes today, but I did reread the book before diving into Tracy Flick Can’t Win. It holds up surprisingly well… except when it doesn’t.

Ironically, the fatal flaw of Tracy Flick Can't Win is the same thing that allowed Election to be so durable: it lacks concrete perspective. I said I didn’t really want to get into the movie, but I was surprised by how little conviction Election actually had during my reread. I think because the movie feels more pointed and sharply satirical, it’s easy to forget that the book doesn’t actually have much of a point of view. It’s sort of an empty shell the reader can graft their own messaging onto. Perrotta presents the circumstances, but he doesn’t do much of anything in the way of conclusions. Election mostly works because it stumbles into relevance despite this lack of conviction. 

This is actually lucky for Perrotta because the lack of perspective in Election is the only reason he can go back and attach a sort of #MeToo theme to his earlier novel. The new novel, set in 2018 to coincide with the dawn of the #MeToo movement, finds Tracy waxing philosophic about how her life has turned out since we last saw her, and blandly wondering if she's as unaffected by what happened to her in high school as she would like to believe. 

Then Perrotta forgets about that idea for the next 60-70% of Tracy Flick Can't Win. When he circles back to it, he only does so glancingly. Instead of grappling with the question, #MeToo is the MacGuffin that allows Perrotta to re-enter this world. 

Instead, Tracy Flick Can't Win is essentially a rerun of Election's plot but set in the adult world. Instead of running for student government, Tracy is interviewing to be Principal at the school where she has been tirelessly slaving away as Assistant Principal for several years. And while Tracy is the most qualified person for the job, people keep looking for other potential candidates who wouldn't be as good as she would. 

Nevermind that this doesn't feel at all like the trajectory Tracy Flick's life would have taken--for the sake of the sequel, Perrotta has to finagle her life story so that she'll be back in a high school running for a position the world would deny her of even though she's the best person for it. Perrotta does make casual references to how Tracy ended up on this life path as the novel progresses, but they feel hollow. As soon as you pick at them, they fall apart. 

You could make comparisons between Tracy and Hilary Clinton. Perrotta seems to be hoping that you will do so. After all, Tracy is an ambitious woman eminently qualified for big jobs who everyone despises for those very character traits. It's just that you could already see Election's Tracy Flick as a stand-in for Hilary Clinton. In fact, it's a more apt comparison since that novel is already set in an election where Tracy's big competition is a male student whose lack of qualifications are rendered null by his popularity. 

Another problem with Perrotta novels is that too often, the plot derails the direction his characters were going, but by the end, everything is mostly back to normal. That's the case here, although the thing that gets everything back into alignment is pretty dark. And while in this instance, Tracy isn't actively self-destructing (which is an improvement from Perrotta's other novels), it still feels odd that everything is back on its original trajectory by the last page. You just have to wonder what the point was. 

All of which makes the reader wonder why this sequel exists? And unfortunately, Perrotta can't make a compelling case for why we had to revisit Tracy Flick at all. It's perfectly fine. It reads quickly. But it doesn't do anything.
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Tracy Flick, the wily, ambitious heroine from Perotta's Election is back as an adult in this dark, funny sequel.  Now Tracy is the assistant principal at a New Jersey public high school.  After years of waiting, the principal is finally retiring and Tracy is hoping for a much-delayed promotion.  She sets out full-steam ahead, trying to show her readiness for the promotion, take care of her ten-year old daughter, a clingy boyfriend, and a successful meditation practice.  But as usual with Tracy, nothing is ever easy and she has to resort to all her skills to show she can do the new job in spite of what the principal and her detractors think.  Fan's of Perotta's previous novel will enjoy this, as will anyone who has ever tried to move ahead against all odds.  Many thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read the ARC.
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I enjoyed this book, it was a quick read.  It's nice to see the continuation of Flick and that she's still up to her antics.  Perrotta is such a fun writer and really immerses you with the dialogue.
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Tracy Flick Can't Win 
by Tom Perrotta
Pub Date: June 7, 2022
Scribner 
#2 in the series 
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. Tracy Flick is back and, once again, the iconic protagonist of Tom Perrotta’s Election—and Reese Witherspoon’s character from the classic movie adaptation—is determined to take high school politics by storm.
* Fiction  *Contemporary  * Humor 
We do live in the age of nostalgia so perhaps it’s not that surprising to see that Tom Perrotta has written a sequel to his late ‘90s novel, Election, even though it wasn’t a massive bestseller or all that good. But here we are anyway, nearly 25 years later, with Election Part 2: Tracy Flick Can’t Win.
I did not love it... 272 pages and it still feels padded. Perrotta introduces a lot of interesting elements throughout the story: CTE, depression, mortality, addiction, aging - but he doesn’t do anything with them. The effect is very superficial and is why this novel doesn’t feel like it has any point.
3 stars
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Yet another deeply stirring and always moving work of fiction by master Tom Perrotta. Tracy Flick is an astonishing character, as we all know from Perrotta’s earlier master work ELECTION and the movie of the same name. Tracy is fierce, unrelenting, indomitable and yet vulnerable too. I could not put this book down. I recommend it without reservation.
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"Tracy Flick is back and, once again, the iconic protagonist of Tom Perrotta's Election - and Reese Witherspoon’s character from the classic movie adaptation - is determined to take high school politics by storm.

Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job.

Energized by the prospect of her long-overdue promotion, Tracy throws herself into her work with renewed zeal, determined to prove her worth to the students, faculty, and School Board, while also managing her personal life - a ten-year-old daughter, a needy doctor boyfriend, and a burgeoning meditation practice. But nothing ever comes easily to Tracy Flick, no matter how diligent or qualified she happens to be.

Among her many other responsibilities, Tracy is enlisted to serve on the Selection Committee for the brand-new Green Meadow High School Hall of Fame. Her male colleagues' determination to honor Vito Falcone - a star quarterback of dubious character who had a brief, undistinguished career in the NFL - triggers bad memories for Tracy, and leads her to troubling reflections about the trajectory of her own life and the forces that have left her feeling thwarted and disappointed, unable to fulfill her true potential.

As she broods on the past, Tracy becomes aware of storm clouds brewing in the present. Is she really a shoo-in for the Principal job? Is the Superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President's wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can’t she ever get what she deserves?

In classic Perrotta style, Tracy Flick Can't Win is a sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect reflection on our current moment. Flick fans and newcomers alike will love this compelling novel chronicling the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time."

Because I'm sure just like me everyone else has been wondering what happened to Tracy Flick!
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I enjoyed Tom Perrotta’s earlier novel, Election, mainly because of its great character development.  This sequel, written years later, works at decent character development but falls flat in that area and thus was not as enjoyable for me.

After losing a high school election on her way to allegedly becoming the president of the United States, Tracy Flick has grown up and is now an assistant high school principal.  When he boss announces her retirement, surely Tracy can be his successor— and thus achieve the “win” she has been trying so hard for since her high school days.  Or, can she?

This is a quick read and it was interesting to see what Tracy was currently up to, but the storyline was a bit mundane and predictable to me, and the ending was very disappointing as it seemed to come out of nowhere.  This novel did not live up to my expectations, but perhaps I expected too much.
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Poor poor Tracy Flick! She is next in line to be the principal at the public high school where she is the Assistant Principal. She has a plan of how she will improve the school and finally be in the shining light. Well, when a series of misfortunate events happens she is surprised. 

A fun light read that turns a bit dark at the end. Quite a drastic change which is what left me giving the book only 3 stars.
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I enjoyed Tom Perrotta's new novel updating, in a sense, the biting disappointments Tracy Flick experienced in high school. Currently, Tracy is the assistant principal at a New Jersey high school. I know the terrain well and liked all the placemarks like Pathmark and the Ledger. Tracy's life is one of reasonable success, but at this middle stage, she is not happy to still be an assistant rather than the principal or higher, so why not a superintendent. Tracy is excellent at her job, she has the requisite training, and a doctorate in education. The staff and students like her well enough. Her boss, the principal, Jack Weede, has full confidence in Tracy. She filled in for him for an entire semester.

When Jack announces his plan to retire at the end of the school year, Tracy's hope rises to a level of confidence. The School Board likes her. The chairman of the board, Kyle Dorfman, implies that Tracy is a shoo-in for the job. Of course, that is when myriad characters begin filling in the plot for ways that will give Tracy yet another disappointment in life. Each character has a POV chapter and I liked reading what everything thought about their life at the school, present, and former players in the NJ arena of ambition.

I appreciate TP and his unique writing that makes the story float off the page, in almost a conversational page. I often dreaded what looked like disaster and despair, only to read on and find more from this author's bag of tools.

Thank you to NG and Scribner for this e-ARC.
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The Tracy Flick of this book doesn't feel like a natural evolution of the Tracy Flick from Election, and I couldn't really get past that as I was reading. That's mostly my own hang-up, and I hate judging a work based on what it's not rather than what it is but... this is an iconic character, and having her do a near-180 from her previous incarnation is going to invite these comparisons.

I liked everything else. There were perhaps too many points of view, not allowing us to spend quite enough time with some of the more minor characters, but I absolutely understood and appreciated why they were there. It reads very quickly and bitingly.
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Tracy Flick is a woman with problems.  As a successful and popular assistant principal, everyone including her thinks she should be a shoo-in to replace the retiring principal.  But of course, all does not go as planned, and is often the case the power of sports programs and staff seems to take precedence.  In these times of divisive school board/faculty/public relations, this novel is a light-hearted, sometimes comic, look at education politics and the effect they can have on individuals.
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Can a book about school shootings have a happy ending and be funny, too? Is it even allowed? This book shows it can be done tastefully. There are many things that make this book appealing: as always with Tom Perotta,  you have a very believable portrait of an American town, showing of modern society problems, a format - short chapters, each given to a different interesting and recognizable character, and despite the tragic events in the book, it has this feel-good vibe.
For the people unfamiliar with Tom Perotta, this book can serve as a good introduction, and his fans won't be disappointed either.
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