cover image Cum Laude

Cum Laude

Cecily von Ziegesar, . . Hyperion, $23.99 (259pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-2347-9

Gossip Girl goes to college in this tart satire of the class of 2014, centering on four mixed-up Dexter College freshmen who stumble through their first semester trying on life, love, and drugs. There's pretty rich girl Shipley, rebel-without-a-cause Eliza, repressed-artist Tom, and hippie-spawn Nick. “With a total population of only nineteen hundred, Dexter was a small college in a small town, but it still felt overwhelming compared to high school,” the kids discover, but the really scary bit is the newfound freedom—from families, histories, and their adolescent identities. In real life, this might be where the adults come in handy, but at Dexter, teachers (other than lesbian Professor Rosen) are nearly nonexistent, and the folks at home are distracted, disillusioned, or dolts. Plenty of Animal House antics and wiseacre banter keep this light and breezy, but von Ziegesar, whose Gossip Girl novels spawned the megahit TV series, adds a crisp and surprisingly steely edge that keeps the precocious teens from devolving entirely into smug knuckleheads. (June)