Tracy Flick Can't Win: A Novel (Paperback)
June 2022 Indie Next List
“A welcome return to a delightful character! Perrotta gives Tracy Flick the mic and allows her — and us — to reinterpret the events of Election. Deeply moving and incredibly funny, I never knew how much I needed this standalone sequel.”
— Shaun Manning, Booksweet, Ann Arbor, MI
Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta
The popular high school star who peaks at 17 is a familiar character, but teachers, administrators, even school secretaries, can experience the same downward slide into mediocrity. And then there’s the ambitious Tracy Flick (who we first met in Election, the book and movie). Once considered the brightest star in her high school’s firmament, Tracy’s dreams of international power and fame have been sabotaged by life’s vagaries. She is now a hard-working high school assistant principal, still seeking power and recognition, albeit on a much-reduced plane. As she re-examines her past and the circumstances that brought her to her present life, Tracy realizes that she had been led to believe that she was so much more exceptional than she really was so that when her downfall occurred, she was unprepared for its aftermath. It’s time she took control of her life again.
With his signature satire and dark humor, Tom Perrotta peoples his novel with characters examining their pasts and trying to make amends, as well as with “careless people” who make messes and just move on. Compulsively readable, Tracy Flick Can’t Win is perfect for summer reading, an entertaining story with a serious undertone that will lead readers to reflect on their own “wins” and “losses” and the way the world reacts to female ambition.
— Shirley Wells
“Tom Perrotta is…one of the great writers that we have today. I love this book.” —Harlan Coben
An “engrossing and mordantly funny” (People) novel about ambition, coming-of-age in adulthood, and never really leaving high school politics behind—featuring New York Times bestselling author Tom Perrotta’s most iconic character of all time.
Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job.
Energized by the prospect of her long-overdue promotion, Tracy throws herself into her work with renewed zeal, determined to prove her worth to the students, faculty, and School Board, while also managing her personal life—a ten-year-old daughter, a needy doctor boyfriend, and a burgeoning meditation practice.
But nothing ever comes easily to Tracy Flick, no matter how diligent or qualified she happens to be. Her male colleagues’ determination to honor Vito Falcone—a star quarterback of dubious character who had a brief, undistinguished career in the NFL—triggers memories for Tracy and leads her to reflect on the trajectory of her own life. As she considers the past, Tracy becomes aware of storm clouds brewing in the present. Is she really a shoo-in for the principal job? Is the Superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President’s wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can’t she ever get what she deserves?
A sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect chronicle of the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time, Tracy Flick Can’t Win “delivers acerbic insight about frustrated ambition” (Esquire).
“Perrotta . . . tells the story through a web of different characters and perspectives. It’s a book populated with middle-aged people disappointed in what life has brought—and yet, Tracy Flick Can’t Win is an oddly uplifting read. Perrotta’s great gift is that he lets his love for his characters, flaws and all, shine through, and Tracy emerges as a much richer, more sympathetic character than in the earlier book; she has grown, as has her creator. . . . I was rooting hard for Tracy Flick to, finally, win.” —Seattle Times
“This sequel, set in 2017, takes a sympathetic view of now middle-aged Tracy, an assistant principal and single mom, as she reconciles her past ambitions with her current dissatisfaction in life. Perrotta brings his trademark dark humor and insights into suburbia to the story, along with some sweet observations about friendship.”—Real Simple
"The heroine of Perrotta’s Election returns in this sharp and perfectly executed story of frustrated ambition…This is the rare sequel that lives up to the original.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"In this culturally savvy sequel to his enduring best-seller, Election (1998), and its wildly popular film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Perrotta again tells a smart, entertaining story from multiple perspectives, oral-history style. The breeziness of the pacing provides tart counterpoint to weightier themes of adultery, ambition, atonement, and revenge which Perrotta handles with a deft but determined satiric touch.”—Booklist
“Combining narrated chapters with short first-person “testimonies” by five of the characters, the plot unfolds with the you-are-there feel of a documentary, or mockumentary perhaps ... the ending is a shocker. Nobody told this master of dark comedy there are things you can’t make jokes about. Watch him try.”—Kirkus