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Tracy Flick Can't Win

Review

Tracy Flick Can't Win

Tracy Flick, portrayed on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon in Election, was one of the most memorable film characters of the ’90s. When Tom Perrotta created the little girl with the myopic view of success, the one so wrapped inside her ambition that she couldn’t see anything else, he may not have known that there would be a clamor to see Tracy as an adult. How did all that boldness, order and need for control work out for her? Well, now we will know.

TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN, Perrotta’s sequel to ELECTION, arrives just in time for the beach season. Now an educator in a small New Jersey town, Tracy has another brass ring to catch. Do you think things will go her way this time, or is the title giving up the ghost?

"I enjoyed this book so much. The writing is efficient and pointed, yet the story never fails to be incredibly funny.... TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN will prove to be a winner this summer."

“I never talked to anyone about what happened to me in high school. Until the past few months, I hardly even thought about it…. It was…a brief misguided affair…with my sophomore English teacher… I realized it was a mistake, and I ended it. My life wasn’t ruined. I didn’t get pregnant, didn’t get my heart broken, didn’t miss a step. I graduated at the top of my class, and went to Georgetown on a full scholarship.”

From Tracy’s early explanation about her dalliance, it’s pretty clear that the only person who really lost out in the love department was the teacher. She goes on to tell us that he tried to contact her throughout college to resurrect their loose affair, but she declined. So the book starts with Tracy putting herself at the top of the heap once more, coming out of a messy situation the victor. But does being the assistant principal at a public school really make her happy?

When the school’s longtime principal, Jack Weede, suddenly retires, Tracy rediscovers her love of competition. She enters into a campaign to win the position similar to the energetic and aggressive one she launched in high school for class president. However, even with Weede’s support, making the transition to the highest power at Green Meadow High School isn’t as easy as either of them would think.

Tracy’s past comes back to haunt her in ways she never could have predicted. The support of the principal’s wife seems a little desperate. Tracy’s ex-husband and 11-year-old daughter have differing views on the subject, and the entire community seems to keep putting obstacles in her way. Factoring in the secrets of the high-achieving students who help make the choice, the former football coach, and the machinations of a small town where everyone thinks they are the smartest of the smart set, it is clear that Tracy has gotten herself into a big mess.

With the present-day pressures of ensuring that she will get the job, Tracy finds that the same feelings and worries she had as a bulldozer of a teen titan are still with her. As the proceedings trigger a second look at who Tracy was, and still is in so many respects, the novel takes on the honed satirical bent for which Perrotta is famous.

I enjoyed this book so much. The writing is efficient and pointed, yet the story never fails to be incredibly funny. Even as we watch Tracy plunge into the craziness of small-town education and politics, and possibly see ourselves in the addle-brained former prom queens and football players, TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN will prove to be a winner this summer.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on June 10, 2022

Tracy Flick Can't Win
by Tom Perrotta

  • Publication Date: June 7, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1501144065
  • ISBN-13: 9781501144066