When Regina Gottlieb arrives at graduate school, a fresh-faced new graduate student, she is warned off of taking Professor Nicholas Brodeur’s classes. He’s depraved, the rumors say. He has affairs with his female students left and right. But Regina is intrigued by this reputation, even more so when she sees Nicholas in the flesh. She decides to enroll in his class, a small action that will change the course of her life and set her on a course to almost drown herself in passion.
When I first heard about My Education, I was intrigued. I loved the academic setting, and I was interested in the coming of age aspects of the novel. Unsure of what to expect, I picked up this book, only to find a brilliantly written novel that explores the passion, lust, and the highs and mundanities of every day life.
Regina is an interesting character in My Education. She’s so young when the novel begins, just twenty-one years old, and though it’s clear she’s wickedly smart in the classroom, she has a long way to go when it comes to emotional maturity. As the novel progresses, she sets herself on a downward spiral of emotion, confusing lust, love, and attraction. Indeed, this novel offers an interesting (though subtle) meditation on the difference between them, and it’s up to the reader to determine what Regina feels and whether it’s worth the awful risks she takes and the consequences.
My Education is also a very sensual novel. Choi’s descriptions are heavily charged; readers will feel the air crackling with tension as they read this novel. Part of it is sexual, as the novel is about an affair, but it’s more than that. The depths with which Regina feels, how far down her emotions reach, is so moving. She draws the reader in through the breadth of her emotions; it’s a testament to Choi’s abilities as a writer that she was able to convey this power through her writing.
The story of My Educationis also surprising. Choi keeps the reader guessing, and the novel explores areas that the reader would have never guessed it would go. Towards the end of the book, the reader is treated to a short glimpse of a wiser, more mature Regina, and it’s simply fascinating to see how she grew and changed from past experiences and mistakes. If you’re squeamish about sex, you might want to steer clear of this book, but you’ll be missing a beautiful exploration of life, love, and the experiences that make us who we are