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Haley Huchler

Robots give humanity one last hurrah in Rorschach Theatre’s ‘Human Museum’

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

No one likes to think about their own death. Certainly no one likes to think about the death of the entire human race. To do so is frightening, depressing, and just plain uncomfortable. Rorschach Theatre’s Human Museum throws comfort to the wind by confronting the demise of the human race head-on, with heart, humor, and Twinkies.

Welcome to the not-so-distant future, in which humans have gone extinct due to a series of natural disasters brought on by their own environmental destruction. Playwright Miyoko Conley’s eccentric story takes place at the titular Human Museum, an institute dedicated to remembering humans. The team of robots who run the museum are preparing to unveil a new exhibit about the final days of the human species, detailing how humans failed to save the planet and themselves.

Human Museum is a uniquely immersive play. The production is housed in a converted retail space, the entirety of which is staged as the setting of the play — the Human Museum. Before the performance, audience members are encouraged to walk around and view the different exhibits on human life. Some of these exhibits feature real “artifacts” of the human world, such as a display of a melted clock (“While humans generally perceived time through memory, they frequently used devices such as this to divide their days and plan their many activities”), while others are imaginings of a future where humans succumbed to a dying planet, such as an arrangement of plants labeled “Eco Experiments, failed” (“These are samples of humans’ many failed attempts to regrow the destroyed environment”). One tongue-in-cheek exhibit recalls the human love of snack foods, especially Twinkies, which come to be a mascot food of the apocalypse in this fictional world.

The production itself plays out in a corridor between two parallel rows of seating, more like the setup for a basketball game than a play. This intimate setting allows audience members to be wholly immersed in the story; however, some of the seats have lower visibility, making viewing every piece of the action slightly difficult.

Screens on either end of the playing area are used to display video. The integration of video, including home movies and museum commercials, adds an entertaining multimedia element to the production. The story is told through artifacts and video as much as it is told through the characters’ words and actions, providing a fascinating theatergoing experience.

In Human Museum, the plot occurs across space, time, and data streams. The play is told through a seamlessly woven tapestry of moments from the present and past. While the robots prepare the latest exhibit of the Human Museum, the museum director, played by Ixchel, finds herself thrown back into memories of the human scientist who created her. A spunky and sweet museum curator named 237, played by Rebecca Husk, relishes in the ability to remember human life, while her coworker 65, played by Aron Spellane, struggles with the burden of holding onto all the knowledge of a dead species. A shocking discovery made by 237 adds another twisted layer to the story, forcing each robot to reexamine their mission.

The performances from the cast are all warm, tender, and, well, human. Rebecca Husk radiates authenticity and warmth as 237, a robot with a heightened sense of sensitivity, while Aron Spellane contrasts her perfectly as 65, a grumpy and sarcastic robot who is more interested in data and logic. Jennifer Knight is wonderfully vivacious as the kind scientist fighting to save her dying species, and Ixchel is powerful as the museum director who holds the legacy of humankind on her shoulders. Ayanna Fowler gives a marvelous performance as a goofy delivery bot, providing comic relief that balances out the somewhat dark story. Bri Houtman’s astonishingly genuine performance as Avery, a human whose story becomes important to the museum team, is the emotional core of this work, with her powerful delivery of monologues that are intense, moving, and unforgettable.

The premise of Human Museum is incredibly original, fascinating, and prescient. At times, the script veers toward sentimentality, but generally, it remains grounded in the gripping reality of an all-too-possible “What if?” scenario. Despite the morbid premise, Human Museum manages to infuse fun and delight into this imagined future, with the heart of the story being a loveable crew of robots who are more human than they think.

Desire is deadly in American University’s ‘Spring Awakening’

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

Spring Awakening begins in darkness. Wendla Bergmann, played by Robin Kane, stands alone on stage, lamenting a lack of guidance from her mother. She is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood but is still unenlightened to the mysteries of life. For Wendla, all these answers will come too late, as she is failed by the oppressive adults and puritanical culture of her 19th-century German village.

The original text of Spring Awakening comes from a play written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind about 19th-century German teenagers living in a sexually repressive culture discovering their burgeoning desires. Due to its controversial subject matter, the play was not performed for the first time until 1906. One hundred years later, Spring Awakening debuted on Broadway as many of us know it today: a rock music spectacular. The memorable setting of a small German village teeming with lustful and randy adolescents is brought to life once more in American University’s production of the passionate musical, directed by Nadia Guevara.

The set of Spring Awakening at the Greenberg Theatre, designed by Sarah Beth Hall, is charming and quaint. The orchestra sits on a platform above the stage, accessed by a spiral staircase that is incorporated into many scenes. The background of the set glows pink and blue, with sketch drawings of a giant eye, a field of flowers, and a fetus in a womb. The theater is adorned with string lights hanging from the ceiling, softly glowing and making the production warm and inviting, much like the characters we are introduced to.

Wendla and her friends gush over the boys they have crushes on, but they know nothing about the adult world of love and relationships. Wendla is an aunt for the second time and complains that she still has no idea how her sister bore two children. The boys are simultaneously enthralled and tormented by new feelings and confusing dreams: all except Melchoir, the sole owner of knowledge among his classmates, who reassures his friends that their budding sexualities are natural. In the musical number “The Bitch of Living,” the boys hilariously lament their stifled desires in one of the funniest scenes in the show. Geogr, played by Finn Fairfield, gives a hysterical performance of a young boy lusting after his older piano teacher.

The play shifts from frisky and humorous to dark and twisted quite quickly, with the first signs of trouble coming from the confession of Martha, played by Grace Connallon, that she is physically and sexually abused by her father. The naive teenagers start to realize that their parents’ and teachers’ rigid authority may be more dangerous than they initially believed. Wendla is particularly distressed by Martha’s revelation, leading her to seek answers and comfort in the arms of Melchoir.

This production is filled with stellar performances all around, from Robin Kane’s sweet, innocent Wendla to Jason Zuckerman’s daring, confident Melchoir. Jane Palladino and Daniel Zavilowitz play all of the adults in this production, swiftly moving between portrayals of different parents and teachers with dextrous ease. Palladino’s performance as Melchoir’s sympathetic but ultimately negligent mother is moving, while her portrayal of the strict piano teacher is endlessly amusing.

Humor certainly plays a role in this musical, filled with provocative dance numbers and sexy rendezvous, but there come times when darkness engulfs the narrative, leading to the tragic heart of this story. At the mercy of their parents’ withholding of knowledge or infliction of punishment, some of the young boys and girls are led to grim endings. The bright songs and cleverly choreographed dance numbers are entertaining but ultimately just a sweet appetizer to the meaty meal of this show. The sorrow of the second act soon swallows up the playful first act, crescendoing with an intense final song, “The Song of Purple Summer,” where the teenagers find hope that the world can someday become more open-minded, accepting, and free.

The messages at the core of Spring Awakening are fascinating to digest. It’s particularly interesting that a 19th-century story can still have such a grasp on audiences today. It may seem as though we have come a long way from those dark days, but there are pockets of the country where the plot of Spring Awakening may not seem like such a distant happening. The performance of this musical feels more powerful than ever, and the cast and crew at American University gave due diligence to the rich material, bringing the evergreen stories of these girls and boys into the light once again.

The Arlington Players come out with a snazzy and spirited ‘Prom’

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

The Prom is a musical comedy based on true events: in 2010, a high school student in Mississippi planned to bring her girlfriend to the senior prom. The school board banned the lesbian student from attending, leading to a federal court case and a whirlwind media storm.  Who would ever imagine that a civil rights case out of Mississippi would lead to a sparkly, campy, Broadway phenomenon. 

The Arlington Players bring this captivating story to life once again, with musical dance numbers that dazzle and dialogue that charms. In the fictionalized retelling, four narcissistic Broadway actors decide to become celebrity activists in order to boost their reputations. They settle on resolving the plight of Emma, an Indiana teen who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom, much to the chagrin of the PTA. Bursting onto the scene of the small town in a dramatic fashion, the Broadway stars end up creating even more strife and stirring the pot until it overflows.

There are several standout performances from the talented cast. Patrick M. Doneghy plays Broadway star Barry Glickman with a perfect blend of humor, sass, and warmth. Eric Kennedy as Trent Oliver, a washed-up actor who is only recognized for his appearance on a ’90s sitcom, has a hilarious and compelling stage presence. Judy Lewis plays the dramatic diva Dee Dee Allen with confidence and grace. The chemistry among these actors and the rest of the cast (including Emily Carbone as Emma, Phil Krzywicki as Mr. Hawkins, the kind-hearted principal, and Jummy Lash as sweet Alyssa Greene, Emma’s girlfriend) is deliciously palpable, and the harmonious union of talent is endlessly enjoyable.

The script is filled with hilarious and memorable one-liners, both spoken and sung. Emily Carbone as Emma Nolan sings in her first solo: “Note to self: Don’t be gay in Indiana.” Kennedy’s Trent Oliver triumphantly announces to a town of horrified Midwesterners: “We’re liberal democrats from Broadway!” While the play centers on a serious topic, there’s scarcely a hint of somberness about the pressing issue at hand. Instead, the production leans into laughs and gaffes.

The most earnest the show gets is in Emma’s solo performances, such as “Just Breathe” and “Unruly Heart.” Carbone plays Emma with sincerity and heart. The character isn’t interested in using her story as a rallying tale; all she wants is to dance with her girlfriend at the prom. Carbone’s performance brings a groundedness to an otherwise whimsical production. But even Emma has her comedic moments, and overall, The Prom is shamelessly playful and waggish.

The set design by Matt Lipak and Dave Moretti is clever and economical, making thrifty use of a few key set pieces. Projections set the mood in each scene, from a New York City red carpet to an Indiana monster truck rally. The sets for each scene are crafted with attentive details, such as the quaint Applebee’s where Dee Dee Allen and Mr. Hawkins begin to swoon over each other, and Emma’s teenage bedroom, filled with band posters and pride stickers.

The show plays around with dance numbers in a unique and entertaining fashion. While the troupe of Broadway stars dance in the style of a classic musical comedy, favoring poise and grace, the young teenagers of James Madison High School are hip-hop to the core, with performances that radiate energy. This contrast is hugely enjoyable to watch on stage.

The Prom is in many ways a musical about theater itself. In the song “We Look to You,” Mr. Hawkins tells Dee Dee about his lifelong love of the theater, and how it lets him escape his everyday life and experience unbridled joy. This is a central theme of the show, which ties in references to other famous Broadway shows like Wicked and Chicago throughout the script and spends much time unpacking the histories of the Broadway stars who become Emma’s crusaders. The actors provide Emma with the idea that some theatrics, or a little “zazz,” can be a way to gain the confidence needed to stand up to her oppressors. Theater is also presented as an important vessel for compassion. In one telling scene, a high school student tells Trent they don’t have a drama department. Trent replies, “That explains your general lack of empathy.”

In The Prom, we come to understand that theater brings many things into our lives: entertainment, joy, enlightenment, and empathy. This lively and hilarious musical comedy with a band of lovable characters at its core delivers on all fronts. Although inspired by real-life events that are less than joyful, the show shies away from becoming too morose, choosing to lighten the mood with witty retorts and corny songs about acceptance, and it ultimately feels like the right choice for this production. Just like Emma, The Prom doesn’t want to be a social justice martyr. It just wants to dance, and that it does.

Big laughs and bawdy fun in ‘The Book of Mormon’ on tour at the National

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

One of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time has landed at The National Theatre with an outstanding opening night. The Book of Mormon’s positive critical response over the years has garnered many subsequent national tours, and this uproarious production, directed by Jennifer Werner, continues that stellar reputation.

The Book of Mormon is a uniquely American musical about a uniquely American phenomenon: Mormonism. The fresh, original, and wickedly funny story of two Mormon missionaries who wind up in a remote village in Uganda is rife with raunchy comedy and farcical performances that make for an evening of hysterical fun. The beloved satire follows Elder Price and Elder Cunningham as they preach about Joseph Smith to African villagers who are more preoccupied with poverty, disease, and violent warlords than the possibility of eternal life as a Latter-day Saint. When the villagers finally begin to be swayed by the missionaries’ promises, things start to get even more wackier.

Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, played by Sam McLellan and Sam Nackman, are a riotous duo. McLellan is delightful as the overconfident, egotistical Elder Price, who is disappointed that he’s been sent to Uganda for his mission instead of his favorite place on Earth (Orlando, Florida) but still determined to succeed in his quest for conversion. Nackman is a talented comedic actor and perfectly cast for the overzealous Elder Cunningham, who just wants to make his dad proud — and maybe become BFFs with Elder Price along the way.

The rest of the cast is equally as charming as the two leads. Keke Nesbitt plays Nabulungi, the first villager to become interested in the missionaries, with an earnest glee and dazzling enthusiasm. Jarret Martin hilariously plays a doctor who has “maggots in his scrotum” and isn’t afraid to sing it loud and proud. Some cast members, such as Trevor Dorner and Sean Casey Flanagan, swing between multiple roles with practiced ease, creating a sense of continuity and synchronicity in the story.

The set design by Scott Pask is a vital piece of this show, and each scene is crafted with immense care and detail. The stage is outlined by a white, gleaming Mormon temple that really does feel like it’s reaching up to the heavens. On stage, the cast and crew do an amazing job of changing scenes with what seems like the touch of a fairy godmother’s wand, effortlessly gliding the story between a suburban Salt Lake City, a tattered and dusty Ugandan village, a sunny, false Florida, and even the depths of hell. The versatility of the design is remarkable, with pieces that swivel quickly to transform the stage in mere seconds.

The joy of the costume design is all in the details, such as Jesus’ curly blond hair, reminiscent of a teenage girl before a school dance, and Elder McKinley’s little pink-flowered suitcase. These comical visual touches remind us of the absolute absurdity of this world and its spunky characters.

Each musical number is more intensely hilarious than the last, not to mention filled with powerful vocals from the cast. Some of the most notable songs include “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” where Elder Price dances with a group of unsavory characters from history who have ended up in this spooky, sparkly underworld, and “Turn It Off,” in which the more experienced missionaries try to teach Elder Price and Elder Cunningham about the little Mormon trick of just “turning off” unsavory thoughts, of course in a flashy dance complete with sequined vests.

Running gags in the show provide harmonious fluidity from one scene to the next, although the raunchy nature of most means this show is definitely not for the kids — or for anyone easily offended. But every crude line or lewd joke is delivered with radiant joy and faux innocence that guarantees a gaggle of laughs. This production reminds us of the power of theater to bring us to tears — that is, tears of laughter. The Book of Mormon at The National Theatre is a complete joy that no one should miss.

Vibrant ‘Twelve Ophelias’ at GMU is a feminist spin on the Bard

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

It’s impossible to resist the allure of Ophelia, one of the most tragic characters in all of literature. The play Twelve Ophelias by Caridad Svich, a feminist spin on Hamlet, gives her a chance to shine as the protagonist instead of a mere love interest. In a murky afterlife, Ophelia struggles to cope with the reality of her past and present. If Hamlet’s Ophelia was waifish and naive, this Ophelia is awakened to the cold truth of the world — as said in the play, there are no girls here.

George Mason University’s School of Theater brings Svich’s revisionist tale to the stage with color and vibrancy in this production directed by Brett Womack. The set is gorgeously simple, consisting of a set of steps, three large flowers, and a background of shifting colors. The cast makes use of props such as green-blue swaths of sheer fabric to create the rippling water that Ophelia rises from. Ophelia, played by Rylan Snyder, awakes from her watery grave and steps into a luminescent world that abounds with strange characters. Hamlet is Rude Boy and Gertrude runs a brothel. Rude Boy and his friend H wrestle and argue about love, and jesterlike characters G and R find joyful ways to pass the time in this purgatory world.

Brea Davis, Katie Rowe, Rylan Snyder, Nathaniel McCay, Keaton Lazar, and Sarah Stewart in ‘Twelve Ophelias’: one of many dream sequences in the show, each character feeling nothing but want and yearning. Photo by Aurora Powell.

Upon entrance into this new land, Ophelia doesn’t seem to quite know who she is or what she wants. She stumbles around, pursuing Rude Boy and then running from him, being consoled and then scolded by Gertrude and the others. This is certainly not a plot-driven story, and it can be a bit challenging to follow the thread of what is going on. The language is at times nonsensical, and it takes a poetic ear to appreciate the rollicking metaphors and indulgent meanderings of the dialogue. Time on stage is most often taken up by long monologues about love and loss that don’t often seem to end up anywhere lucid or important.

The talented cast shines despite some of the limitations of the text. Snyder gives a powerful and compelling performance as Ophelia. G and R, played by Katie Rowe and Sarah Stewart, shine as the down-to-earth, goodhearted fools, bringing a groundedness to the play that prevents it from becoming too grandiose. As H, Rude Boy’s closest friend and confidant, Keaton Lazar gives a goofy and sincere portrayal. The show excels in its dance numbers, where the cast is given a chance to be playful and sure-footed. Mina, played by Brea Davis, gives a stunning solo dance performance that is a highlight of this production.

Another strength of the performance is the unique and thoughtful use of the theater space. Cast members move into the aisles, sometimes throwing themselves dramatically down between rows of audience members. Haunting moments in the play were created by cast members singing from different places off-stage, so the sound comes at the audience from all directions. The effect of this was hair-raising and unforgettable.

While it’s fun to get a glimpse into Ophelia’s upside-down afterlife, it’s hard not to miss what this play lacks: the deep commitment to storytelling that makes Shakespeare’s works so memorable. By the end of the play, it’s clear that Ophelia has undergone a transformation, learning how to better stand on her own, but there’s some confusion as to how we got here. The poetry-like dialogue of this production is beautiful but devoid of any cohesive narrative. This play might be best suited for those interested in experimental productions that focus more on prose and effects than they do plot, or Hamlet super-fans who will delight in the small details and references plucked from Shakespeare’s original play. Regardless, anyone who takes a chance on Twelve Ophelias will be rewarded with the superb performances of a talented young cast.

A race against time in Synetic Theater’s mesmerizing ‘Romeo & Juliet’

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in DC Theater Arts here.

What is Shakespeare without the Bard’s words? Director Paata Tsikurishvili’s Romeo & Juliet at Synetic Theater dares to imagine a Shakespearean tragedy without witty wisecracks or romantic lamentation. The dance-based performance tells the familiar tale with no dialogue, expressing the action and drama of the story through mesmerizing movement, deliberate lighting and sound design, and powerful performances from a cast that knows how to convey emotion without a single word.

The great emphasis of this performance is time. The set design is industrial and sparse, consisting almost solely of large clock gears and a swinging pendulum. Tsikurishvili is keen to introduce time as a character itself — one could say the ultimate villain of the story. In many scenes, the two lovers, Zana Gankhuyag as Romeo and Irina Kavsadze as Juliet, whirl across the stage through shifting gears being spun by other dancers. In other scenes, the dance movements themselves become mechanical and robotic, mimicking the clicking gears of an unforgiving timepiece.

Without dialogue, the old story takes on a fresh simplicity. Plot points are condensed and a few characters are cut from the original material. This allows the show to cleanly and clearly reflect the conflicts and tensions of the story without words. Familiarity with the storyline is a plus, but even for those who haven’t read the star-crossed lovers’ tale in quite some time, the story is easy to follow. Tsikurishvili somehow makes the story feel more timeless than ever in a performance that transcends language.

This presentation of Romeo & Juliet is gritty, dark, and eerie. Without the flowery prose and dirty jokes of the original play, this rendition could easily descend into a place completely grim and hopeless, but moments of humor save it from this fate. Mercutio, played by Tony Amante, brings much-needed comic relief with his electric performance. Amante is lively and hilarious, a feat all the more impressive when you consider he did it without speaking a word. Another performance that brightens up the show is Janine Baumgardner as Nurse. Small moments of physical humor that she brings to the stage are just enough to occasionally make us forget the true tragedy of this tale.

Sound design is crucial to a wordless show, and Konstantine Lortkipanidze (with additional design from Irakli Kavsadze and Paata Tsikurishvili) does a spectacular job of providing the soundtrack. An unusual touch is a beeping sound that returns over and over during moments of intensity, a raw noise that at first might make you think, “Who forgot to turn their phone off?” It’s a jarring and off-putting use of sound, but the unconventional method creates a bleakness that adds a rich texture to the performance. The lighting design by Brian S. Allard adds to the mood, at times making the stage feel completely eerie and spectral.

The performances of the two star-crossed lovers are extraordinary. Irina Kavadsze as Juliet brings a lightness and innocence to the stage, and Zana Gankhuyag is just as sure-footed and confident as you would want a Romeo to be. Their movements are precise and unfaltering. The show excels with a particularly striking scene that uses shadow to convey a moment of intimacy between the two, a moving display that was one of the most memorable points of the performance.

This production of Romeo & Juliet has been brought back to the stage at Synetic Theater many times since its first performance in 2008. This is the last time it will open at the Crystal City location, as Synetic Theater will be on the move as of April. This bittersweet occasion makes the show feel even more powerful and exciting. Just as Romeo and Juliet run out the clock, so does the Synetic Theater company. However, while the ending is tragic for our Shakespearean lovers, the Synetic Theater is sure to use this as a fresh start, a chance to explore new venues and new ideas, and if Romeo and Juliet is anything to go off of, I’m sure whatever they do next will be fantastic.

Come and Get It: A Novel

By Haley Huchler

This article was originally published in the Washington Independent Review of Books here.

It’s nearly impossible for me to resist a good campus novel. Any setting that throws together people from different backgrounds and cultures is bound to create the sparks required for interesting literature. In Come & Get It, author Kiley Reid takes full advantage of her college locale to craft a drama fueled by the financial tensions her compelling, complicated characters endure.

Reid’s sophomore effort has been eagerly anticipated since the success of her debut, Such a Fun Age, about a young Black woman entangled in the lives of the wealthy white family she nannies for in Philadelphia. Come & Get It returns to the author’s fascination with issues of race, privilege, and class, this time at the University of Arkansas. The narrative alternates among the perspectives of three women: Millie, a student and resident assistant saving up to buy her own house; Agatha, a writer and visiting professor dealing with a recent breakup; and Kennedy, a transfer student struggling to adjust and make friends.

The story begins with Agatha interviewing three undergrads in Millie’s dorm for a book she’s writing on weddings. After they pepper her with anecdotes about “practice paychecks” from their parents and the “fun money” they earn at their campus jobs, though, Agatha leaves the interview more interested in the girls’ economic backgrounds. She enlists Millie’s help to continue listening in on the lives of these wealthy, out-of-touch students. Soon, both Agatha’s book project and her relationship with Millie get messy.

Abundant references to contemporary books, movies, and brands make the novel feel truly of-the-moment. Reid leaves the reader with no doubt that her story is anchored in a specific time and place. Birkenstocks, “Pitch Perfect 2,” and Victoria’s Secret all appear within the first two pages; Millie’s bookshelf holds Americanah, Sweetbitter, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and Kennedy’s homesickness is personified by her weeknight plan to watch “27 Dresses” while her mother simultaneously streams it at home. Such specificity makes the characters feel incredibly real; anyone who’s spent time at a Southern university in the past few years would recognize them instantly.

This plethora of detail falls in line with Reid’s style of writing. You can be sure upon meeting any character that you’ll soon know everything about them, from where they grew up to what they ate for breakfast last Tuesday. These details are particularly important in illustrating the financial tensions at the heart of the story. For example, we learn that much of Agatha’s incompatibility with her former partner stems from their out-of-sync spending habits, and that Millie’s desire to save for a home drives her every decision. In Come & Get It, everything comes back to finances. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear why.

Unexpected plot twists also make this a slightly darker book than readers might initially expect. In the first half of the novel, the stakes aren’t all that high — it feels almost like a character study — but a rapid turn of events shakes things up. While Reid certainly knows how to keep readers hooked, the story’s climax feels oddly disconnected from the book’s earlier acute emphasis on wealth (or lack thereof).

Despite the intense and unwavering focus Reid projects onto each character’s relationship with money, I can’t tell what she wants us to make of it all. Yes, Come & Get It presents a world divided by privilege and class, but it offers no conclusions. Getting to know Millie, Agatha, and Kennedy felt like peering into a zoo and being intrigued by the inhabitants’ understandable, sometimes deplorable behavior. You walk away entertained but unenlightened.

Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable, easily digestible read with characters who’ll stick with you long after you’ve closed the book. And if you happen to be anywhere near an American college campus, you just may run into them.