Debating Darcy

Debating Darcy by Sayantani DasGupta, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult

“It’s not that guy’s hadn’t been jerks to be more in school or on the road, but this felt different, worse somehow, because it was so quiet…This felt like those same guys had come into the privacy of my mind and heart and done the same thing.”

~Leela, p. 167

This review brought to you in honor of National Bookstore Romance Day! With all the drama happening at B&N, please support your local independent bookstores as often as possible. And while you’re there, pick up this book!

There are two things you need to know: 1) I’m a former high school debater (policy, obvi) and 2) I love Pride and Prejudice. And by love, I mean I’ve read the book and watched both movie versions and re-watch them as much as possible. So, when I heard one of my favorite authors was writing a modern day re-telling of P&P set in the high school speech and debate world? Well, to say I was excited is an understatement.

And let me tell you, this book did not disappoint! Pride and Prejudice fans will love it. The plot runs parallel to P&P and lovers of the book will easily know what parts lined up with the original. A few of the scenes were a bit *too* close to the original and didn’t work quite as well, but I’d say 95% of it worked brilliantly. 

What really got me, though, is the little nods to the real high school speech and debate world. Pen twirls. Hanging out in high school cafeterias between rounds. Awards ceremonies. Hanging out in hotel rooms (though, with far less drama than what Leela and Darcy dealt with). Debate world romances. All of it led to a flood of memories coming back with the turn of each page. INCLUDING watching and supporting my theater friends perform their Dramatic Interpretations. (See, Leela. Not all policy debaters are jerks.)

Debating Darcy alongside all of my high school debate trophies. Haven’t looked at those in years!

Back in the late 90s, I was one of the few Indian American debaters in my league and, honestly, one of the few debaters of Color. To read a world filled with not just Indian American debaters (at least three!), but also queer debaters, a debater with a chronic illness, and otherwise a whole cast of not the typical debater was magical. And I’d like to think that if I knew about the same kind of sexism happening in my world that Leela felt that I’d have responded in an equally badass way.

This was a book I’ve held off reading because I was terrified of being disappointed (more so in the debate representation than the P&P parallels). And I am so, so, so glad I was not. Like Pride and Prejudice, this is a book I will be reading over and over again.

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