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We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(5) Tree Line

On the one hand, Sentimental Education is a pretty smooth read: your basic thwarted love story and all the highs and lows that go with it. But things get a little complex with all the political and historical names, dates, and other picky details. We at Shmoop think it's best not to get too tangled up in all the history. Sure, it's important, but on your first read, all you need to know are the basic sides in the revolution. Then you can sit back and enjoy the social intrigue and romance. And boy is there plenty.

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