The Graduate is the debut novel by Charles Webb, written and published in 1963. It is set in California, USA, in the ‘60s and follows Benjamin Braddock who has recently graduated from college and doesn’t know what to do now. He has exceptionally good references and he even receives offers from grad schools like Yale and Harvard but all that doesn’t make him happy. He tries many things to overcome this feeling - from drinking, swimming in the pool and going on a trip but he still feels empty. A full on Quarter-Life crisis. Only an affair with the wife of his father’s business partner, Mrs. Robinson, seems to make him feel better - or worse. Once he starts dating Elaine Robinson, the daughter of Mrs. Robinson, he seems to really feel better. The only problem is that Mrs. Robinson doesn’t want them to be together so she tries everything to prevent that. Her actions range from intimidation to false rape allegations.
The book received a well-liked and multiple award winning movie adaptation and a stage adaptation by John Reid, manager of Elton John and Queen which also got very positive feedback.
Webb also wrote a sequel to the novel in 2007 called ‘Home School’ where we follow 1970s Ben in his battle to get his children home schooled.
The thing I liked the most about the book is Webb’s ability to transition seamlessly between scenes. Another thing I liked is how the structure of the text resembles Ben’s feelings. Some things aren’t as fleshed out to put focus on Ben and his actions. I’d recommend the book to anyone not susceptible to a “bad” protagonist. However if you can tell the difference between reality and a book you’re good to go.