Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: The Opposite of Me

Summary: Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes.

Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be. -- Washington Square Press

THE OPPOSITE OF ME by Sarah Pekkanen is one book that I have been dying to read. A little over a year ago, I subscribed to Ms. Pekannen's email newsletter in anticipation of learning more about her debut novel; and I have been following her ever since. In fact, I actually won her monthly newsletter contest way back in December of 2008; and I even won an ARC of THE OPPOSITE OF ME on Christmas Eve! I already considered myself a fan of Ms. Pekkanen's before the book was even released (not that the awesome presents had anything to do with it!)

So I admit that while I was anxious to read THE OPPOSITE OF ME, I was also a little concerned. I had been building up anticipation of this book for over a year. I mean -- what if I didn't really like the novel? Well, I am so happy to say that I didn't have to worry about that. I really, really liked THE OPPOSITE OF ME, and I know that many women will agree with me. It's just one of those books that was a pleasure to read.

THE OPPOSITE OF ME is really, at its heart, Lindsey's story. Lindsey is a successful 29 year old advertising exec who seems to have it all on the outside; however, the reader quickly can see that Lindsey is carrying a lot of baggage around. She has never felt like she can live up her to very beautiful twin sister, so she has overcompensated by proving herself as a career woman ... if she can't be the beautiful one, she can be the smart, successful one. I really found myself liking Lindsey (despite her faults) and I thought the author did a wonderful job of developing her character.

When Lindsey's world falls apart, she heads back home to her parents. Like many adult children who return home, she has some adjustment issues (which proved to be very entertaining at times.) Lindsey hopes to find some comfort in the familiar, but she learns that it's never that simple. She has to face her "perfect" sister's marriage plans as well as re-discovering her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. I really think in so many ways that THE OPPOSITE OF ME was a coming-of-age story for Lindsey (even though she was 29 years old!) Throughout the course of the novel, Lindsey learned a great deal about herself, her relationship with her sister, and what would make her truly happy.

One thing I loved about this novel was how it explored the relationship between sisters -- and in this case, twin sisters. Having a sister who is almost nine years younger, I can't say that I experienced first hand the competition and rivalry like Lindsey and Alex had; however, I could still relate to many of the feelings that Lindsey experienced about her sister. I absolutely adored how Ms. Pekannen explored the sister dynamic thing and had both women realize that they didn't know everything about each other (or themselves for that matter.)

Since I have been following Sarah for awhile now, I wasn't really surprised by her writing style. I was expecting the book to be well written, and I just knew that it would be funny. What I wasn't sure about was whether THE OPPOSITE OF ME would be just a light, chick-lit type read -- not that there's anything wrong with that. The novel definitely seemed to start out that way with Lindsey having a high-powered job, living in New York City, having man problems, etc; however, as I read the book, I was pleasantly impressed with how the story became much more involved and even deeper than I initially thought.

I also admit that I was surprised a little by the ending of this novel. I was kind of expecting things to be wrapped up in a neat little bow, and they weren't really that clear cut. I don't want to give too much away, but I did want to say that appreciated how the author didn't take the easy way out with the ending of this book. I found the story to be much more rewarding without a traditional happy ending.

THE OPPOSITE OF ME would make an excellent discussion book for female book clubs. The story is obviously very entertaining, and there are also some deeper issues that can be further explored. There is a reading guide available with some wonderful questions. It also includes a great Q&A with the author. I think Lindsey is a fascinating character and I'd love to analyze her. Some of the other topics for discussion include family dynamics, sibling rivalry, the bond between twins, sisterly relationships, career choices, and happiness.

Needless to say, THE OPPOSITE OF ME was a wonderful read. I highly recommend it to fans of chick-lit as well as women's fiction. It's a heart-warming story that at the same time is very funny. I can't wait to see what Ms. Pekkanen has to offer us next!

Thanks to the author and SheKnows for sending me an ARC of this novel.


Hannah Stoneham said...

Thanks for posting this interesting review - it sounds like a great read. I am a member of an all female book group (albeit that we have a huge list of books to read already!) so i will keep it is mind.

Thanks for sharing


Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have been hoping to run across a review for this book. I think it sounds like a good book and will be putting it on my wish list. Great review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've been hearing so much about this lately! I like your comments about liking how it isn't tied up with a bow. I tend to like books that way, but your comments are interesting and thought-provoking!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This sounds wonderful! I have to admit, I didn't read to the end. Didn't want to learn too much.


bermudaonion said...

Lindsey sounds like someone we can all relate to. I can't wait to read this book!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have a sister four years younger than me, and I know she was always compared to me. I still feel bad about it, and I worry about that type of dynamic between my kids. This sounds like a wonderful book - I'm glad it lived up to expectations!

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

I was a little worried about liking it too, since I adore Sarah, but I was more confident than not, having read her all the time on The Debutante Ball. What did pleasantly surprise me was that she wrote her novel the exact same way she writes her posts. I guess that could have been a problem, but it really worked in this case!

Booksnyc said...

I just recently learned about this author and think the book sounds great! Glad it lived up to your expectations!

Lisa said...

I love books that explore the relationship between sisters. I'll have to pick this one up.

Darlene said...

I've seen this book around and wondered about it. Sounds great though - wonderful review!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Those scenes of Lindsey adjusting to life in her parents' home - hysterical!

I'm so happy for Sarah, the book just went into a second printing!

Wanda said...

After seeing this in a few "mailboxes" I was curious to read a review. Having three sisters of my own, I'm drawn to books that explore the bonds and boundries of sisters in fiction. Sounds great, thanks!