Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men

In Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men, investigative journalist Alexandra Robbins (Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities) interviews students across the spectrum of Greek life. Her goal is to demystify these secretive communities that often dominate social life on college campuses.

The stories of two students in particular, Oliver and Jake, showcase the merits and pitfalls of fraternity membership. Oliver is chapter president of Phi Epsilon. His experience as a leader and fraternity brother helps him learn what sort of man he wants to be and how he stacks up against the traditional understanding of masculinity. Jake, a freshman undergoing a grueling pledge process at Zeta Kappa, craves the social bonding of brotherhood but struggles with aspects that are less desirable to him: the forced drinking, the constant partying and the time he has to spend away from his studies to prove his commitment to the house.

Fraternities are about so much more than drinking and partying, but usually that's all that makes the news. In Fraternity, readers may learn for the first time about Greek chapters that offer safe spaces for those who don't fall into male stereotypes and others that focus on serving minorities and members of the LGBTQ community. These communities promote genuine friendship and self-acceptance; they teach communication skills and encourage emotional sharing. Ideally, the right fraternity fit will bring out the best in a college student, creating strong real-life bonds in place of tenuous digital friendships.

With Fraternity, Robbins helps parents, high school students and college freshmen understand and evaluate a secretive culture that boys are flocking to now more than ever. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer