Dear Committee Members is a novel that really feels like it shouldn’t work. It’s told entirely in a series of recommendation letters written a failed writer and university professor. You constantly expect some sort of plot to cohere out of them, but none really does. It’s entirely a character study. But it was pleasantly surprising. Instead of coming off as alcoholic and outraged and self-important (as one expects from professor novels), the guy, while undeniably crotchety, seems genuinely warm-hearted. And not just towards a few favorites. He seems really warmhearted towards any student who seems like he or she has, I don’t know, a spark of something alive inside them.
After finishing the book, I noticed that Julie Schumacher has also written a number of YA novels, so I picked up her The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls. I was completely in love with this book for the first third. I thought the relationship between the girls in the book club was really real and really subtly drawn. But after a certain point the words started to blur, and I sort of skimmed the rest. Can’t say why.