Genevieve Sly Crane
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Prep meets Girls in White Dresses in Genevieve Sly Crane’s deliciously addictive, compulsively readable exploration of female friendship and coming of age that will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about what goes on in a sorority house…I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Margot is dead.
There’s a rumor she died because she couldn’t take the pressure of being a pledge. You may not ask what happened to her. It’s not your business. But it wasn’t a suicide, if you’re wondering.
Spring Fling will not be cancelled. The deposit is non-refundable. And Margot would have wanted the sisterhood to continue in her absence, if only to protect her sisters’ secrets: Shannon is the thinnest girl in the house (the other sisters hate her for it, but they know her sacrifice: she only uses the bathroom by the laundry room); Kyra has slept with twenty-nine boys since she started college (they are all different and all the same); Amanda is a virgin (her mincing gait and sloping posture give it away); and while half the sisters are too new to have known Margot, Deirdre remembers her—she always remembers.
With a keen sense of character and unflinching, observant prose, Crane exposes the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship…or at least the appearance of it. - from Goodreads
As a member of a co-ed service fraternity in college, I was interested in reading Sorority, because there don't seem to be a lot of books out there about the college experience. If I had read this book before rushing my fraternity, I probably never would have gone through with it! This sorority experience isn't all puff paint and toga parties, but a dark look at college Greek life.
This book is less of a linear story and more a compilation of vignettes, each devoted to one or two sisters and sometimes a "chorus" narrator. I was a bit surprised by the structure of the book, especially because the blurb made me think it would be about the death of one of the sisters (Margot), what happened and the other sisters' reactions to it. But, Margot isn't even mentioned in a lot of the stories, and the timeline skips around several years. It took me awhile to get into the book, but once I started approaching each chapter as its own new story, I could appreciate it more.
Within the chapters, Crane has crafted a look into different aspects of sorority life - what might happen if a sister got pregnant, the friendships that last long after graduation, and how not everyone will get along all the time. There is a pervasive darkness to the stories - drug use and drinking are rampant throughout the house, and one story explores a sexual assault that occurs during pledging. I thought some stories didn't fit at all, including (surprisingly) a chapter on the founders, and one of my favorite chapters was actually a short one with each sister detailing what pledging meant to her.
Crane's writing is sharp and tight, which really highlights, in a no-nonsense way, the messy, gritty lives of these girls, inside and outside the house. The stories often feel raw and give the reader a super-personal look into the characters. While I don't think this book is representative of every fraternity or sorority (particularly not my experience), there's enough realness here to give the reader a peek behind the curtain of Greek life.