Updated: Mar 28
PRAISE FOR D.S. Marquis' documentary story OF SCHOOL AND WOMEN
“Well, like Einstein said, a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Of School and Women
"Indie author D.S. Marquis’ story Of School and Women captures the spirit of youthful uncertainties and the wisdom that comes about through new experiences. But this story looks back to the spirit and culture of the 1980’s in Tallahassee, Florida. What a time to be a young adult! The 80’s didn’t have Google or access to questions at your fingertips through a quick search on your cellphone. Young adults without life experience had to forge ahead, largely uninformed, while doing their best in the moment they found themselves. The author captures this pre-technology culture, and the energy and bravery needed to navigate life, through the decision making of her two adventurous female MCs.
Does that make them sound naïve? Well, they’re not naïve. They’re just at the beginning of their personal journeys. They’re both bold young women, college students, with plenty of mistakes already behind them as they each try to plot their futures with skills and insights from what they’ve already learned. They’re both still so young, only in their early 20s, but they’ve experienced enough of life where they can offer the reader thoughtful reflections on their intentions as they make life altering decisions for themselves. I liked Lynette’s thoughts as she pondered what she knew she had to do next regarding a specific situation, 'So inside herself, so in touch with each gust of wind and the elements and the earth and some rhythmic force in motion, calling her into the night, to search, that when something inside her shifted, under the altar of it all, it was in that moment a drifting seed of a sunder planted itself. And Lynette embraced the chaos it would bring.' Oh, author! That moment. How recognizable and well described. Maturity is gained throughout the story through some freewheeling experiences.
There’s a casual sort of reference to situations such as drinking and driving, drug trafficking, and other behaviors that are all told expertly through historical perspective. The 1980’s have a distinct cultural feel. So does Florida. Grounded in reality, outside of fantasy, these details are more shocking, but so fun to read about. The truth can be just as fascinating as fiction.
Serious issues are also given a spotlight in this story. Human trafficking, and the ease with which a person can fall victim to this criminal enterprise, also plays a role in this story. While the subject is only one part of the story, the author provides information and resources in her acknowledgements at the end of the story which the reader will want to consider.
With some serious themes woven throughout the story, a reader might wonder if the narrative is too heavy. Let me assure you, it is not. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, the characters, and the situations they find themselves in, are very relatable, and the story progresses to a satisfying conclusion which is necessary after making the reader become so invested in the outcomes of the two MCs. I highly recommend Of School and Women: A Tale of Earning, Loving, and Learning." Jennifer Cyphers, Author of The Cosmos in Her Hand
"I enjoyed the book, especially the successful evocation of both characters (notably Lynette and Marie) and setting--the world of two young coeds striving to get ahead (and find love) in 1980s Florida. Marquis has recreated the world before smartphones and computers and the rest of it. Good use of specific details--some from the world of the news (Iran Contra), some from music, some from the physical world (answering machines, Toyota Coronas). Marquis established Lynette's credibility as a student of English (& as a reader) with references to Shakespeare and Chaucer and so on. So good for her! Wondering if she is onto another project?" Rod Kessler
"A strong documentary with sweeping inherent rhythm. Marquis sure can tell a story! I really became emotionally involved with the people in this insightful nonfiction narrative about the power of helping each other. I love how the Reagan Presidency and the Iran Contra Affair are kept in the periphery. OF SCHOOL AND WOMEN would make a great multipart television documentary series: A look at the real-life travails of two women during two years at FSU. If this were filmed rather than written, it would come off like the 1970’s documentary series, AN AMERICAN FAMILY. If you’re a lover of true stories, or a young woman off to college, this is a must read." M.D./R.P.
"Immensely inspiring - Truly unputdownable! This is a wonderful book written with simplicity and honesty. This book brings about the beautiful life of 80's in America. It talks about the struggles of university students, the challenges, opportunities and adventures faced by them. Most importantly it talks of friendships, friendships at all points of time, through highs and lows and thick and thins. The characters of Lynette Autry & Marie Martinez are in contrast to each other, but both act as brilliant protagonists to this brilliant story which is mostly true. The life of Lynette is also very inspiring - how she manages to get her graduation despite living alone and working in a bar. The book also touches upon the sensitive yet important topic of human trafficking. Overall, a light brilliant read, really very well written and I love the narrative style." Suresh Kher
"Two years in the life of an undergrad! Compelling to walk along with the author, through life’s ups and downs. This book is a real page turner, I felt as if I were next to her the whole time. You will laugh out loud, feel as if you are going to cry, every emotion is felt as if you were part of the story. Gives you a sense of how someone who is determined to make it on their own, on their own terms, can make it seem so easy, when the struggles are very real. Highly recommended!" K.N.
"If you can't be good, be careful. This quote resonated with me throughout the book. It's simple and true. You can't ever stop anyone from temptation. Human beings are naturally adventurous—how else are we supposed to learn?
Marquis created a genuine 80s vibe without the crazy hair (that is if the music references don't get you in the groove!). I've always been a sucker for friendship stories, especially when set in the 80s because human interactions were more intimate back then. (They used to write notes on napkins, not text messages!) People were more there and aware of the things around them. Nowadays, we lack this kind of awareness. Instead, we've adopted the explosive digital era where people connect differently (and not always successfully).
In the opening, we learn that Lynette, the main character, has a complex past that explains some of her paranoia and insecurity. Yet, she has a strong presence, is beautiful and funny. We learn that her unsatisfying love life is the only obstacle stopping her from focusing on her new life. Starting her bachelor's degree marks a new beginning, which includes looking for a job to support herself during her studies. Many of us can relate, but everyone's experience is different. Experiencing Lynette's college life brought me back to when I was studying and working simultaneously. It’s hard work that you don’t take for granted.
When Lynette meets Marie—a fellow student, life suddenly starts to pick up the pace. My first thought of Marie was that she is neurotic and hysterical, yet very adventurous and reckless. Despite being an extraordinary character, she doesn't strike me as a nurse, as she welcomes trouble and temptation with open arms. I would've loved to see her more often in a hospital setting and learned more about her insights as a Catholic girl doing things she shouldn't be doing (LOTS of things she shouldn't be doing!). I love how bold she is; she's unafraid to take risks. While Marie is impulsive, Lynette is cautious. But what can possibly go wrong when both cause trouble together? After all, they bring out the best in each other.
As someone who has never been to Florida, I could perfectly picture Marquis's 80s version of it and almost want to retrace her footsteps. The setting at the airport lounge summarizes many of my favorite parts of the novel, where she plays around nicely with third-person narratives, and we get a little taste of each character's thoughts. It also adds more real-life contexts to the book, especially when Marquis quotes news broadcasts to highlight the sociological and political situation during the Reagan era. Not only for the sake of history, but she also makes us aware of how past issues are still relevant today.
Of School and Women is beautifully written. The characters are well-established with their own inner journeys. (I would have loved an in-depth look into Lynette's life before college! Perhaps in her next book?). It's a friendship story about facing your anxiety regarding adulting; it's about empowerment, forgiveness, and friends being each other's missing puzzle piece."
Paula C. Deckard
"Of School and Women captures your attention from the very beginning. Immediately you are drawn into the two lives of Lynette and Marie, willing them on as they strive to succeed as working college students. The reader joins them on their journeys as they try to leave their pasts behind and push forward to create a better future for themselves. D. S. Marquis definitely has a great skill of building characters who come to life and who blend beautifully together. Lynette and Marie are loveable and realistic characters, both with their own strengths and weaknesses. Their relationship with each other really does display what it means to experience a true and lasting friendship.
The backdrop to the book also adds an extra level of interest, looking back to a time when technology wasn’t at the center of our lives. When Marie is in trouble, miles away from Tallahassee, the limited methods of communication certainly do build suspense for the reader as her friends desperately try to rescue her before it’s too late. As well as this, D.S. Marquis adds flashes of popular 80s culture to build her world and certainly does succeed in sending the reader back in time, taking those who experienced this decade on a trip down memory lane.
The author is also not afraid to touch upon more sensitive subjects, which she writes about with great thought and care, that were not only topical in the 80s but that are also prevalent today. Her afterword gives an informative list of places to read more about these subjects, such as human trafficking, and allows her readers to become more informed on the subjects if they desire to do so.
Overall, Of School and Women is a very well written story based upon real life events and the true stories of people who lived through this fascinating decade. If you enjoy reading narrative non-fiction, you’ll love this book."
"Funny, real, and relatable! An honest sharing of life in your twenties! It's a treat when a book takes you along a path of reality, laughter, fear, and tears. You walk alongside each character wondering what they are going to do next, while empathizing when their life takes a turn down the wrong trail and celebrate when it doesn't. Fun read that reminds you of the lovely 80's." Janice Gray
"Not just for women, men in this story are strong and unforgettable characters. I loved this interesting story and the character Dillan who reminded me of my many years of being in the airline industry as an aviation technician. I felt like I was back on the ramp again. A definite good read with an unexpected twist toward the end." R.T.
"Fantastic read about the trials of adulting. Great and authentic! Will recommend." J.T.
“I loved reading this phenomenal book based on true stories. The character Lynette had my attention from the beginning to the end. The friendship between Lynette and Marie is a once in a lifetime opportunity that most college girls could only wish for. I loved everything about this book. I enjoyed being submerged in history. As a Florida State University Alumni, this book had me at the cover. It truly was a compelling and phenomenal read. I sang, I laughed, I cried and I felt submerged in the journey with the characters. The adventures, risks, community, connections and conversations in this book is a must read for all who believe in living and playing full out.” A.R.B.