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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High School Presidential
The back cover of this edition of "Election" makes the following claims: Tracy Flick, prospective President of Winwood High, is the kind of girl who "edits the yearbook [and] star[s] in the musical"; Paul Warren, likable jock, is so dim he's described as "not sure what's going on"; and the election at the high school is fraught with "sex scandals, smear campaigns, and...
Published on June 29 2002 by Mike Stone

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3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing spectacular
First, I should note that I have not yet seen this movie. This is not a bad book, per se. I read it quite quickly. Perotta is a decent writer. The action flows really well, and he does a good job of hooking the reader into the story. The problem is that the book is superficial. It is too short to really examine the characters in depth and give the reader any real insight...
Published on March 29 2002 by Ms Diva


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High School Presidential, June 29 2002
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
The back cover of this edition of "Election" makes the following claims: Tracy Flick, prospective President of Winwood High, is the kind of girl who "edits the yearbook [and] star[s] in the musical"; Paul Warren, likable jock, is so dim he's described as "not sure what's going on"; and the election at the high school is fraught with "sex scandals, smear campaigns, and behind-the-scene power brokers". I mention this, because, curiously, none of these things are found in the book. Oh sure, they could be. Maybe in the in-between scenes, the one that author Tom Perrotta doesn't actually write, but that's reading a little too much into the book's subtext. Either that, or an overworked copywriter never read the book, but rented the movie instead.
This is one of those rare occasions where the movie is more fleshed-out than the book. At a scant 200 pages (it can't be more than 40,000 words long; the slowest of readers could polish it off in a couple of hours), I found myself waiting for favourite scenes from the movie to pop up in prose form. Can you believe that Mr. McAllister doesn't even get stung by a bee in the book? For shame! I know, I know, you can't blame Perrotta for any of this; he wrote the book he wrote and he can't change it now for an audience familiar with the story in another medium. They might be disappointed by the omissions, but I wasn't.
While the book rarely gives more than a preliminary expository sketch of its characters, Perrotta is smart enough to allow self-definition through their actions and their speech. Which any good book should be doing anyway. Listen to the way these kids talk. Paul describes his girlfriend Lisa as: "sarcastic-looking." It's a phrase that means nothing, but somehow I can picture her. A better example is this bit from Tracy, describing a torrid affair with a teacher: "We fooled around in the darkroom, the handicapped elevator (this was after school, when the wheelchair kids had gone home), and backstage, behind the curtain." This is the essence of Tracy's character: she's blunt, politically incorrect (ironic for someone running for class president), and unabashedly cold. Perrotta, in a style that stays away from overly purple prose, nails the language of the age perfectly. I suspect that Perrotta knew this was his greatest strength, for the book is told in a series of vignettes, each from a different character's point of view. The effect is "Rashomon"-like, as we get alternating viewpoints on situations and character that allows us to question just who is telling the whole truth.
In a pivotal scene, an overzealous campaign manager defines the 'base' voters of each candidate. Paul's support will come from the "jocks, cheerleaders, and wannabes." Tracy can count on "the AP crowd, [and] maybe the band." Tammy Warren, Paul's younger sister and bona fide alternative candidate, will garner most of her votes from "the burnouts and the benchwarmers and the kids who feel left out." Not only does this scene neatly define the election subplot, but also it quickly categorizes what it means to be a high school student: you're athletic and popular, smart and respected, or apathetic and unsympathetic. It's a pretty bleak school view that Perrotta lays out. For those of us who remember high school vividly, though, it can't be more accurate.
Perrotta's accurate eye is not only trained on the students, but it gets a good look at the teachers too. Jim McAllister, a.k.a. Mr. M., is our conduit into this little-seen world. He's a perfect example of the adage, "those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Although that's unfair, for Mr. M is too satisfied to see if he can 'do'. One moment of anguish has him detailing a dream of his perfect career, only to admit that he'd "done nothing to implement [those dreams]." In many ways, Mr. M reads like a typically content but not happy character. But in other ways, he's rather odd. Over his decade at the school he's built himself a prudent reputation, while simultaneously building a solid marriage. But he dallies from his wife and career in one destructive week, and it changes him from being a respected teacher to a man who would reflexively muse that "it's awful to admit, but I felt a powerful sense of relief every time I turned on the TV and saw buildings going up in flames, and that poor man being dragged out of his truck."
This last bit, an oblique reference to Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, also highlights the book's insistence on being anchored in a specific time period. The L.A. Riots, the Thomas/Hill hearings, and the impending election of Governor Clinton into the White House all form an early nineties backdrop that seems to be commenting directly on the events occurring at Winwood High. "The only difference was that Bill and Clarence lied and I told the truth," laments Mr. M., in one of the book's most poignant lines. The time and place are captured neatly, and relevantly.
"Election" is not a perfect slice-of-life. It's too short to be considered great, and there are some clunky plot-devices that I didn't buy. But it's still more than just a trifle. If you'd told me some prodigy teenager had handed this work in for a creative writing assignment, I'd believe you. For the accuracy and flavour of the dialogue, the complex yet simply believable characters, and the credible picture of high school it draws.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Awesome Read!!!!!, April 30 2002
By 
Shannon (Michigan!!!!!!!!) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
This is a great book! I found it so hard to put down! It is a very enjoyable and quick read. I love the way Perrotta tells thestory through the eyes of five different characters -- Paul Warren (the popular jock), Tracky Flick (he overachiever), Mr. M. (the teacher and student governmnet advisor), Tammy Warren (Paul's sister), and Lisa Flanagan (Paul's girlfriend and Tammy's ex- bestfriend). This is a crazy cast of characters. THe twists and turns of the student government election and the surrounding events almost have a soap opera feel in that you get so wrapped up in the plot you just can't get away. But, at the same time you get to know the character really well. I think that Tom Perrotta is a wonderful author and i look forward to reading his other books. I have this book a rating of 4 stars because i think it is a great book -- one of my favorites -- but it doesn't have wonderful literary merit. Perrotta focuses alot on the plot and there is no real deeper meaning to the book, and it doens't leave you feeling changed in any way.
I would definitely recommmend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable read, however this book is for a more mature audience. I would reccomend it for anyone high school age and up. So go read it!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the freshest breaths of air I have ever breathed, April 13 2002
By 
Blake Maddux (Arlington, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
Who would ever think that such a modest novel, and such a quick read, could be such a truly great piece of literature? I read the entire novel [in one day] and the last time I had a smile on my face for so long, I was watching the movie based on this novel. ...
Granted, the movie is a case study of how a novel can change when put into the hands of a different writer and director. The amazing thing is that both the movie and the novel are great on their own merits. It is impossible to say that you do not like the movie simply because it takes such liberties with the book. ...
... one of the movies funniest lines does not appear in the novel (when a colleague and friend of Mr. M. descibes something only he knows about Tracy Flick), and another of the movie's funniest lines comes from Mr. M. (Matthew Broderick), while in the novel it comes from the school's principal. Trust me, it is funnier coming from Matthew Broderick than it would have been coming from the actor who portrayed the principal ... Plus, Mr. M. never gets stung by a bee in the novel. These are among the many gems that the movie has that the novel does not. I will not bother to mention the advantages the novel has over the movie, but there are several.
What needs to be stressed is the novel's bravery. It deals in no uncertain terms with adultery, soft-core pedophilia, lesbianism, corruption, blind ambition, alienation, loneliness, and, perhaps most importantly, forgiveness. And it deals with these issues through characters who seem so utterly real.
"Election" is truly a great achievement.
Do yourself a favor: read the novel and see the movie. Do so in any order, for both are equally great on their own merits. It is a shame, nay, a travesty, that only a few very fortunate people are aware of this book and movie. But as Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) says in the movie, "If you're going to be great, you have to be lonely." This is a lonely book and movie, but it is a great as it is lonely.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing spectacular, March 29 2002
By 
Ms Diva "cycworker" (Nanaimo, B.C. Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
First, I should note that I have not yet seen this movie. This is not a bad book, per se. I read it quite quickly. Perotta is a decent writer. The action flows really well, and he does a good job of hooking the reader into the story. The problem is that the book is superficial. It is too short to really examine the characters in depth and give the reader any real insight of value into their motivations. Tracy and Mr. M needed a great deal more depth. I didn't get invested in any of the characters. I didn't care what happened to them. I found that as much as I enjoyed the book when I was reading it, it didn't stay with me when it was over
I would say that the book is worth reading, if you haven't seen the movie. In fact, I now really want to see the film -- I could totally picture Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon in their roles. I wouldn't, however, rush to read the book, or spend alot of money on it. If you can find a cheap used copy, or it's available in your local library and there's nothing else available that you're dying to read, this book is certainly worth reading -- it won't take long, and it is engrossing. Just don't expect it to be anything special.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Remember High School Elections??, Jan. 20 2002
By 
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
As a middle aged woman long out of high school, I have very little, if any recollections of student government elections. But if I did, I seriously doubt they would resemble anything which took place in this book. Election, by Tom Perrotta, is a fast read filled with satirical nuances and some rather wild goings on. Narrated by the teacher Mr. M, one can't help but be both amused and then shocked at some of the events which take place during this simple election. Using the election as the backdrop, Perrotta entices his readers into viewing what at times is both a hilarious story but then oddly sad as well.
Tracy Flick, the first one to have her name entered for President, is an A student and goody-two shoes. What few members of the high school body or staff know is that Tracy has had an affair with one of her teachers. This teacher a good friend of Mr. M's then loses his job, his wife and is eventually found selling shoes in his father's store. Fearful of what Tracy might do next Mr. M, encourages Paul Warren, the star of the football team to also run. Mr. M. concludes that Tracy and Paul will run for the office and Paul, by virtue of his popularity, will win the election. That is until Paul's sister Tammy, who is grappling with her own sexual preference also decides to run. As the election and relationships both in and out of school heat up, the reader is drawn into the world of Winwood High School. And the outcome is anybody's guess.
Generally speaking I always read a book before seeing the movie. In this case I did see the movie first and then just had to read the book. Both experiences were worthwhile, even if the ending of the movie differed from the book (both were great in my opinion). Now I look forward to reading more of Tom Perrotta in the future. And when I hear about a high school election, I'll never think about them quite the same.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is better than the original story......, Oct. 10 2001
By 
"tiffanyleungtt" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
After I read the book, one idea pops out of my mind, ¡§It's a quite straight forwarded book." Election is absolutely not a boring novel, because it talks about the thinking of high school students and some interesting events in the school, for example how the teacher Mr. M and the students discuss about a rape case.
Perrotta wrote the novel based on two events, one is the 1992 presidential election campaign which included Ross Perot as a third party candidate, and an incident where a conservative high school principal in the South invalidated a prom queen election because the winner was pregnant. Well, to be honest, I do not fully understand the purpose for relating the occasions (Or why did he link the 2 events with his book).
Perrotta describes an election over the student government of Winwood high school in New Jersey. I like how the three candidates and some main characters take turn telling their story in small chapters. That way, I can compare their thoughts and action in order. Plus, this helps me to organize the story easily.
My favorite character is Tracy Flick, who is quite self-conscious. Maybe I should say I like how Perrotta portray Tracy's personality as both Jekyll and Hyde, goody in the outside with an evil heart. But I think more development on Tracy will be a good idea since she is a big plot throughout the story. I also like Mr. McAllister, the teacher who is a dedicated teacher and is just simply dislike Tracy Flick. The plot that Mr. M tries to persuade other people to go against Tracy is very fascinating.
Compare with the video, I like the book better. One of the reasons of this, is because the satires and symbols are perhaps too much for me. The book provide a solid plotting that makes me really want to find out who wins when the ballots are finally counted, while the video just plainly tells me the story and the ending.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is better than the original story......, Oct. 10 2001
By 
"tiffanyleungtt" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
After I read the book, one idea pops out of my mind, ¡§It's a quite straight forwarded book." Election is absolutely not a boring novel, because it talks about the thinking of high school students and some interesting events in the school, for example how the teacher Mr. M and the students discuss about a rape case.
Perrotta wrote the novel based on two events, one is the 1992 presidential election campaign which included Ross Perot as a third party candidate, and an incident where a conservative high school principal in the South invalidated a prom queen election because the winner was pregnant. Well, to be honest, I do not fully understand the purpose for relating the occasions (Or why did he link the 2 events with his book).
Perrotta describes an election over the student government of Winwood high school in New Jersey. I like how the three candidates and some main characters take turn telling their story in small chapters. That way, I can compare their thoughts and action in order. Plus, this helps me to organize the story easily.
My favorite character is Tracy Flick, who is quite self-conscious. Maybe I should say I like how Perrotta portray Tracy's personality as both Jekyll and Hyde, goody in the outside with an evil heart. But I think more development on Tracy will be a good idea since she is a big plot throughout the story. I also like Mr. McAllister, the teacher who is a dedicated teacher and is just simply dislike Tracy Flick. The plot that Mr. M tries to persuade other people to go against Tracy is very fascinating.
Compare with the video, I like the book better. One of the reasons of this, is because the satires and symbols are perhaps too much for me. The book provide a solid plotting that makes me really want to find out who wins when the ballots are finally counted, while the video just plainly tells me the story and the ending.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I hereby nominate..., June 23 2001
By 
Ada Erickson (primadonnasrevenge dot com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
I bought this book on a whim (only $4.98!) because I ADORED the movie. Most reveiwers make reference to the film, and it is true, the film is much more rich.
The book is what one reveiwer mentions, a "fun, quick read." There is slightly (and boy do I mean SLIGHTLY) more to the book than there was to the movie, however, the movie is simply better. I want to tell you how fabulous the movie is, but I gather you are wondering about the book.
So...the book...
It explores more deeply Tracy's revlusion with her sexual intimacy with her teacher (describing a pimple on his butt and the pregnancy books on his wife's side of the bed), which is not explored in the movie. (oops, sorry, there I go again). The book DID answer one burning question I have had...why doesn't George Will run for president (smart columnist for NEWSWEEK)? I was happy to gather some information from an otherwise unedifying read.
I can't say much more than see the movie (it really is super). If you LOVE the movie, read the book, but don't expect too much.
(P.S. This book was NOT reccommended by Stephen King in "On Writing...a book I HIGHLY reccommend)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tracy-gate, Feb. 26 2001
By 
M. Allen Greenbaum (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
This is an entertaining light book that could have been better. The problem? The book does not adequately explain the motives of the high school teacher who tries to steal an election from overachiever Tracy Flick. (The book is set in Tom Perrotta's favored region of New Jersey.) The movie adaptation (with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon) portrays more fully developed characters, allowing one to feel and believe their emotions. However, the book is better than the movie in some respects. Paul Warren, Tracy's main electoral rival, is much more perceptive, and--well--smarter, than the one-dimensional nick jock in the movie. His first-person narration is closest to the author's point of view, and it's a very effective portrayal. Tracy Flick comes off as more sympathetic, although a little more self-aware too.
Paul and Tracy represent high school archetypes; Paul's sister, outsider Tammy (so vividly portrayed in the film) is not as bouyant here and her relationships not highlighted as well. Still, the rapid switches between different first person accounts of chronologically overlapping scenes make this a Rashomen-lite narrative that is fast, light, and often funny.
The main problem is "Mr. M.," the high school teacher who attempts to rig the election against Tracy. We don't see the burn out, the conflicts between idealism and cynicism, and, especially, the self-loathing that Broderick (and the screenplay) brought to the film. Because of this somewhat superficial treatment, his behavior is never provided the context or motivation to fully realize the tragi-comical themes underlying the humor and irony so effectively portrayed in the film. Still, a quick fun read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Left me cold....., Jan. 13 2001
By 
"the_yameater" (des moines and/or cleveland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Election (Paperback)
what an unfortunate plight sometimes to see a movie first. Election, the movie, had such crisp dialogue and hilarious wit that i had to know who was behind such richly developed characters. To my dismay, I discovered that it was the writers of the screenplay, not Tom Perrotta, an apparently Yale-educated man.
Although the movie follows the book in style and some happenings (although the movie plot twists appeal to me much, much more), the book reads so much like amateur student fiction. The characters flesh out so much better on screen. The problem resides in, I believe, Perrotta's insistence on the character's remorse, which the movie leaves out. This is what makes the story so much more ironic and full, seeing the characters lie to themselves that they are justified in their actions.
While i thought that the book would follow more closely with the movie (or vice versa), or give me some more insight on their motivations, I was just left cold... nostalgic for the characters I saw on screen.
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Election by Tom Perotta (Hardcover - March 1 1998)
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