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Publisher's Summary

When Penelope O'Shaunessy, "an incoming freshman of average height and lank hair", steps into Harvard Yard for the first time, she has lots of advice from her mother: "Don't be too enthusiastic, don't talk to people who seem to be getting annoyed, and for heaven's sake, stop playing Tetris on your phone at parties."

Penelope needs this advice. She is the kind of girl who passes through much of her life with coffee spilled on her white shirt, who can't quite tell when people are joking, and who, inevitably, always says the wrong thing. But no amount of coaching will prepare Penelope for the people she meets at school.

Gloriously skewering the social hierarchy of college, Penelope is the brilliantly funny story of one of the most singular, memorable heroines in recent fiction.

©2012 Rebecca Harrington (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[An] amusing and often searing profile of a dysfunctional Harvard that runs on elaborately bullshitted papers and even more elaborately constructed personae. Penelope manages to bump into all manner of Harvard caricatures, allowing Harrington's satirical voice to shine." (Zoë K. Hitzig, The Harvard Crimson )
"Unique...refreshing.... It is this sincere depiction of a quirky quasi-misfit in a world of pre-law go-getters and trust-fund kids that renders Penelope not only a satire of the Harvard world, but also a sincere portrayal of an average kid." (Shannon Draucker, The Dartmouth)

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