Once again it’s time for another installment of everyone’s favorite chick lit romp through the mystery-filled tomb of Skull & Bones–er, Rose & Grave. Yale Grad (’01) Diana Peterfreund delivers schadenfreude, secret society pranks and sex (okay, foreplay) on the beach in Rites of Spring (Break), the latest book in her “Ivy League Novel “ quartet, out from Delta Fiction earlier this month.
“Eli” (read: Yale) University senior Amy “Bugaboo” Haskel is panicked about graduation. But when she and her fellow Rose & Grave knights pull a prank on rival society Dragon’s Head, Amy winds up with a lot more to worry about than her lack of job offers. Dragon’s Head wants revenge, and they’ve chosen Amy as their target. After months of dye in her shampoo, crickets in her dorm suite, and soda dumped on her textbooks, Amy is more than ready to party it up during Spring Break. Rather than Cancun, our plucky heroine heads for Cavador Key, her secret society’s private island. But Cavador Key isn’t exactly drama free, either. Someone has infiltrated the island, and Amy must dodge death threats, bad seafood, and the prying eyes of her society members as she starts hooking up with Jamie, a society patriarch who avid fans will remember as the villain from past books in the series.
Along with the gang from previous books (including a governor’s playboy son, a former teen actress, a lesbian activist, a straight-edge genius computer programmer and a Manhattan socialite), Peterfreund adds another gem to the cast of society types we love to hate: Darren, the high school-aged son of society patriarch and disgraced senator, who proclaims of Aristotle, “I find his tone to be remarkably jejune.”
Rites of Spring (Break) is the perfect beach read for Ivy Leaguers who want a break from academia, but not from campus drama. Peterfreund has created a sympathetic and spirited heroine who, despite her annoying penchant for confessions and lists, you kind of wish you became friends with back in lit hum. In spite of the peppy cover, poppy narrative and preppy undertones, Peterfreund definitely knows how to create suspense. And her—I mean, Amy’s–thoughts on the impending doom of graduation are uncomfortably on the mark:
The biggest problem with being a relatively small fish in the best pond ever is that you start to lower your own expectations. Maybe if I’d gone to a smaller school, or a less prestigious school, I’d have convinced myself that I was still the hotshot I was as a high school valedictorian headed to an Ivy League college. Instead, I’d spent three years recalibrating my dreams to fit into the caste that the resident geniuses at Eli had shown me to be a part of. Above average, to be sure, but not summa.”
There were a few too many loose ends for my taste (but then again, my taste isn’t exactly romance novels, so maybe I’m off course), and a couple of lines that made me snort (and not in an ‘oh, that’s funny’ way), but overall, if you’re looking for a book to toss in your tote on the way to Cape Cod, or just want to convince yourself that being a Philo pwns the shit out of being in a real secret society, this is a pretty good pick.