Tell Me if the Lovers Are Losers

In 1961, their first year at all-female Stanton college, the three roommates of Tell Me If the Lovers Are Losers are as different as they could be. Ann is stereotypically normal with her Philadelphia prep-school background and love of books, while wiry, unpredictable Niki has a winner-take-all attitude. As for Hildy, she is something special and different, with a wisdom coming partly from her isolated farming life but mostly from within.

At first just living together is a struggle but soon they find themselves beginning to understand each other. And when under Hildy’s guidance they form a top-notch volleyball team with Eloise, Ruth, Bess, and Sarah, they know that they have something really special. As always, however, nothing can remain idyllic.

At first I dismissed this as a conventional school/sports story, enjoyable but light. But this book is about much more than that–it’s about philosophy, and vision, and working together, and most importantly about life. It’s quite easy to see why Cynthia Voigt is an award-winning author, and as I’ve read many of her books I should have known better than to come into this so casually.

For example, here is a sample passage comparing the girls:

“Ann tried to figure out what they were like, Hildy and Niki. And Ann. Niki wore her intelligence like her jeans, close and comfortable. Hildy held hers like a lantern, to illuminate. And Ann? Like a string of pearls around her neck, in the dark of night on the wrong street, she nervously concealed her mind, her unquiet fingers both cherishing and proud.”

The comparison is so nuanced that even in these few lines we get a clear picture of what each girl is like, without any bluntness or stereotypes. It’s a far cry from Grace Harlowe’s Plebe Year!

Published in: on June 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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