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Goodbye, Vitamin
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Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
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Watch Me Disappear
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Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Book Review: Fraternity

Fraternity by Alexandra Robbins

Fraternities have a bad rep - and often, for a good reason. The way fraternities are presented in movies pales in comparison to the true stories we hear about on the news of deaths due to hazing or date rape scandals occurring across college campuses.

Why then are the numbers of young men growing at an astonishing rate? That is the question that best-selling writer, Alexandra Robbins, attempts to answer in her latest investigative nonfiction novel, Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men.

In a behind the scenes take, Robbins follows different young men throughout one year of fraternity life. The results are vastly different.

One young man is an introverted nerd going through rush (recruitment) and his pledge period. He desperately wants connection and has a father who was in a fraternity in college. He enters the fraternity scene with hesitation and strong views against hazing, the negative treatment of women, and alcohol abuse. However, as he joins a traditional fraternity, his views change drastically. By the end of the novel, he has done almost everything he said he wouldn't. And he defends his new brothers and himself for the things they do. Many of which come straight out of the papers or movies.

However, Robbins also follows the new sophomore president of a more inclusive fraternity that is more focused on brotherhood than partying. While he encounters plenty of obstacles, this young man's experience within his fraternity is vastly different. His fraternity does set him up to be better prepared for leadership roles in his career and paves the way for genuine relationships.

Robbins argues that today's young men are drawn to fraternities because this generation is seriously lacking genuine social connections. As they interact primarily through technology and then leave home, these young men are desperate to find a new family. Unfortunately, the family they find can vary greatly depending on the school and chapter. No two fraternities (even of the same name) are alike.

Packed with statistics and insider information from the brothers themselves, the book was insightful. I also really appreciated that Robbins ended the novel with a section for parents or young men considering joining the Greek system. It includes tips on how to decipher the types of fraternities based on clues found during recruitment events and other tips for finding a fraternity that will empower rather than weaken young men.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review.

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