Private Citizens: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Tony Tulathimutte
This Study Guide consists of approximately 73 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Private Citizens.
This section contains 1,370 words
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Private Citizens: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Private Citizens: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Private Citizens: A Novel by Tony Tulathimutte.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Tulathimutte, Tony. Private Citizens. Harper Collins, 2016.

Linda, Will, Henrik, and Cory meet each other in the summer of 2007 for a beach excursion. All graduates of Stanford class of 2005, the friends have experienced various life paths before rejoining. Linda is the first to reveal her thoughts to the reader. It appears after graduating in 2005, Linda moved to New York to pursue a goal of writing. While in New York, Linda becomes involved in drugs and suffers an overdose which compels her parents to suggest Linda enter a rehab organization. Following Linda’s time in rehab, she leaves New York and returns to San Francisco. Linda is currently looking for a place to live. The second character to reveal her thoughts, is Cory. Cory is politically inclined and currently works at a non-profit called Socialize. She believes in a ‘free’ lifestyle, marked by her dreadlocks and her dedication to living a life independent of her wealthy father. Cory spends time worrying about how to connect her friends with the politics of the time. The third character to open his mind, is Will. Will’s thoughts are presently on his girlfriend Vanya, who he mad at for not joining the beach excursion. Will reveals he works as a computer analyst, hails from a middle class immigrant family and is self conscience about his Asian race. The final character to reveals his inner thoughts is Henrik. Henrik is blonde, blue eyed and good looking. He is involved in scientific research as a grad student at Stanford and at one point dated Linda during their time at Stanford. Returning to the present, the friends arrive at the beach.

Time passes. It is October and Cory discovers that her boss at the non-profit where she is employed has died. Searching through the mail, Cory finds an envelope addressed to her. Enclosed is a copy of her dead boss’s will, in which he bequeaths the non-profit to Cory. Shocked, Cory panics. She has no knowledge of running a business, and she knows that Socialize is on the verge of collapse. Cory calls her estranged father, Barr, for help. Barr is a self made millionaire, with a clever mind for business and finances. When he hears Cory’s predicament, he offers to help by sending her information. Cory thanks her father.

While Cory manages her failing non-profit, Vanya, Will’s girlfriend, is preparing to pitch a business idea to capital investors in New York. Vanya wants to create a company which connects individuals who are disabled, on a platform which is compelling and fair. Vanya feels very passionate about the subject as she herself is paralyzed below the waist from a childhood accident. Will does not want Vanya to leave, but willingly helps her prepare for her pitch. While Vanya is gone, Will spends his time cleaning Vanya’s apartment. One evening he stumbles across Vanya’s journals and finds a note indicating she has had plastic surgery. Later that week, Will skypes Vanya and asks her to marry him. Vanya says no, thinking it is simply a ploy to get her to return home, because Will is lonely.

The story then turns to Linda. Linda is currently looking for somewhere to live and decides to meet up with a boy she vaguely knows named Baptist. Linda's plan is to create the illusion she wants to become Baptist's girlfriend. The plan works and Linda moves in with Baptist. After two weeks, Baptist and Linda break up and Linda goes to live with her friend, Eve and Eve’s boyfriend, Jared. Eve has a baby, Mercy, and Linda helps Eve care for Mercy in-between working odd jobs. During this time Linda flashes back to her studies at Stanford and recalls her writing was never appreciated. She also reveals that she has not written since graduating Stanford in 2005, even though she desires to be a writer. In the present, Linda opens up a journal and begins writing again.

The story then turns to Henrik. Henrik has been diligently working at his graduate lab. One day, the head of Henrik’s department calls Henrik into his office and informs him that funding for Henrik's project has been pulled. Effectively, Henrik is unemployed. Devastated Henrik returns to his apartment and takes a concoction of prescription medicine. He later orders an escort, named Lucretia and spends the night with her. Meanwhile, Will is suffering from extreme loneliness from Vanya. He turns to porn to pass the time and wastes a week staring at his computer. Following the wasted week, Will meets Cory at a local coffee shop and helps her set up an email. Cory checks her inbox and discovers a email fro Barr encouraging her to attend a CEO workshop, Handshake. Will returns to his apartment where he constructs a video cam. He shows it to Vanya who asks if Will could help her set up one. Vanya returns home and tells Will her pitch was successful and that she will be the subject of a new live streaming tv show which will follow her and document her everyday life.

While Will adjusts to his new life on camera, Cory decides to take the Handshake class. She spends a week learning how to properly run a company. Reinvigorated, Cory returns and revamps Socialize. She also brainstorms ideas for fundraising and settles on the idea of a fair with local venders held in a nearby park. Cory then has dinner with Henrik, where she discovers Henrik is still seeing Lucretia. After dinner with Cory, Henrik phones Lucretia who invites Henrik to come live with her. Henrik then flashes back to his childhood, where he recalls his life as the son of a truck driver. He reveals that he was originally accepted to Yale, but after suffering a mental breakdown transferred to Stanford. In the present, Henrik moves in with Lucretia, who takes Henrik off his bipolar medication. As a result, Henrik goes insane one night and Lucretia has him thrown out of the house. With no where else to go, Henrik goes to Will’s apartment and Linda surprisingly opens the door.

The novel now turns to filling in the time lost between Linda living with Eve and moving to Will’s house. While at Eve’s, Linda attended a party and accidentally smoked heroin, thinking it was opium. Completely high, she walked out into the street and was hit by a car. Linda’s leg is broken and both her front teeth are knocked out. Will comes to visit Linda in the hospital and offers her a place to stay. At first Linda refuses and returns to live with Eve. However, following a fight instigated by Linda over who Mercy called mama, Eve throws Linda out of the apartment and Linda goes to Will for help.

The novel then digresses to a flashback where the meeting between Henrik and Linda is explained. In the present, while Henrik and Linda ignite a frosty existence at Will’s house, Cory works on her fundraiser. After a great deal of work, Cory pulls everything together and the fundraiser is a massive success.

Meanwhile, Henrik and Linda become re aquatinted and Vanya asks Will to have plastic surgery to make his eyes less Asian. Will agrees and has the surgery. Linda later takes him to the doctor where it is determined Will has contracted a rare eye disease and will need to have surgery to remove both eyes, rendering him completely blind. After the surgery, Linda and Henrik help Will home. At home, Vanya is waiting for Will. She tells Will that they will get through his new disability together. Will disagrees and breaks up with Vanya. In the next room, Henrik and Linda talk about their break up. They both agree they lied about various aspect and decide to try a relationship again. Will, Henrik and Linda all visit Cory at her non-profit. Cory reveals the her non-profit has officially closed, and that she is returning home to be with her father who has cancer. The four friends decide to spend the night at Cory’s non-profit.

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