Martha Goldenthal isn’t your typical 1960s Berkeley radical. Her rebellion isn’t sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll—it’s doing well at Berkeley High and planning for college. Her father, Jules, is a raging batterer who, because of his own insecurities, hates academia. Not that her off-the-rails mother, Willa, is much better. Meanwhile, Jules’s classical record store, located directly across the street from the U.C. Berkeley campus, is ground zero for riots and tear gas. No wonder Martha has a nervous tic—a shrug of the shoulder. Preoccupied with the family situation and barely able to concentrate, Martha plods along in school and somehow manages to achieve. But her parents’ hideous divorce, the loss of her father’s record store and livelihood, a heartless eviction from the family home, and an unlikely custody case wind up putting Martha in Jules’s care. Can she stand up to her father and do the one thing she’s sure she must—go to college? With its running “soundtrack” of classical recordings and rock music and its vivid scenes of Berkeley at its most turbulent, Shrug is the absorbing, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting story of one young woman’s journey toward independence.
August 13, 2019
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Average Grade: A+    (switch to numeric scale)
L/E Ratio: 60% Entertainment, 40% Literature
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Writing Quality:
Low High
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Low High
Movie Potential:
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Sequel Potential:
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