Novice: Volume Two

Rated 4.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Novice is the second installment of journals that Meghan McDonnell has chronicled from age 8 to now - almost 30 years. Her candid musings on daily life and family, social and romantic relationships coalesce in a commentary on facing down passion and fear, and American life.
Volume 2 of this addictive series spans her freshman year of college, first love, a trip to Australia and nascent adulthood. More

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About Meghan McDonnell

Meghan McDonnell lives in Walla Walla with the man she loves. When she’s not writing or reading, she spends time outdoors, solves crossword puzzles, and pretends to garden.

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About the Series: The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
For over 20 years, writer Meghan McDonnell has chronicled her life in her personal journals beginning at age eight through present day. With searing candor and tenderness, her musings on daily life and observations of family, social and romantic relationships coalesce in a commentary on challenges, facing down passion and fear, and American life in the 21st century. Wide in scope and vivid in detail, her journals are her confessional love letter to the world. Join her on a fearless, vulnerable, sometimes painful and quixotic, but always honest journey, also known as the human experience.

Also in Series: The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Also by This Author


Peter Kelly reviewed on on June 2, 2016

Novice is the second in a series of diaries by Meghan McDonnell. It covers the years 1997 to 1999, when she first fell in love, attended university and went to Australia. McDonnell should be commended for her courage in making so much personal material public.

The memoir is dominated by Meghan’s frustrating relationship with Lucas, a young man who I perceived as being a drip. Especially after he cheated on her. The plot also concerns Meghan deciding what to do with her life. All this is much more interesting than it sounds, partially because McDonnell makes it clear her story is set in the nineties by referring to the contemporary music of the time.

My favourite section was Meghan’s trip to Australia with her friend Cassidy. They go to Sydney, Melbourne and even the cheesemaking town of Bega – all places that I’ve visited. I was fascinated by her description of Lygon street and its Italian restaurants, even though she misspelled it Lyon Street. Similarly, Swanston Street became Swanton Street. While these mistakes initially amused me, I figured that they also effectively communicated Meghan’s disorientation in a strange country.

I also liked how she included a list of every song mentioned in the book as an appendix. This list is practically an invitation to the reader to make a mixtape or a playlist, so maybe it should be at the start of the book.

I don’t have a lot of experience reading diaries. The lack of dialogue threw me at first, but I soon got used to it. It also bothered me that we couldn’t see things from the perspective of other characters, although this would be impossible to do honestly in a diary. I just really wanted to know what Lucas was thinking.

The ideal audience is people invested in nineties nostalgia, particularly if they live in Washington State where the book is mostly set. It would be interesting to see what fans of Romance or YA react of Novice‘s depiction of a real young adult relationship. I’d also recommend it to young people trying to imagine what their lives would be like before the iPad or Facebook. Overall, Novice is a book for those interested in the inner lives of ordinary people.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
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