Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: These Girls

Summary: Family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.

Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance. Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated. Her roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger. Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind. Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other. -- Atria

Is it just me, or does it seem like there are so many great books coming out this month? I feel as if I can barely keep up (Heck, who am I fooling? I can't keep up!), but one April release definitely found its way to the top of my TBR pile. That book is THESE GIRLS by Sarah Pekannen. Sarah is one of my favorite authors in addition to being one of my favorite author friends, and I was hoping that THESE GIRLS lived up to my expectations.

I am thrilled to say that this novel about three girls sharing an apartment in New York City was fantastic. THESE GIRLS tells the story of Cate, Renee, and Abby, three women who are trying to balance their professional and personal lives. Right now, you might be thinking that this book has the potential to be a little light and perhaps, a chick lit-type story, but you'd be wrong. While THESE GIRLS is a funny and heartwarming novel, it still manages to deal with some very serious (and very real) issues. Each of these three women are battling some difficult inner conflicts, and it was through their new-found friendship that they were eventually able to heal.

There were so many things that I appreciated about THESE GIRLS, but if I were forced to choose just one thing, it would have to be the character development. Cate, Renee and Abby were all vividly drawn characters, and I think almost every woman who reads this novel will relate to at least one of them. Despite being quite a bit older than these women, I definitely felt a strong affinity with one of them -- Cate; however, I also understood Renee's insecurities with her appearance. And as far as Abby goes, I really didn't have much in common with her, but as a mother, I could relate to her desire to nurture. I found that I loved each one of these characters, for very different reasons; and I thought they all were incredibly real.

Another aspect of this novel that I really liked was how the story ended. It wasn't wrapped up with a big, fat, red bow. Rather it was more like real life -- some things worked out well and other things not so much. I hesitate to say too much about the last few pages because I don't want to be a spoiler, but I really liked the general message of the story. Overall, I took away from THESE GIRLS that female friendships are a very powerful thing and that women, with the help of a good female support system, can overcome some pretty big obstacles. Furthermore, I loved that these women were able to heal because they put others' needs before their own. What wonderful and heartwarming messages!

THESE GIRLS would make a wonderful book club pick. Since the characters are so well-developed (and also pretty complex), there is plenty to discuss. In addition, there is a reading guide available with fourteen thought-provoking discussion questions that I thought was really good. Some of the topics you might want to discuss include the definition of success, friendships, parent/child relationships, love, secrets, guilt, honesty, acceptance, personal appearances, addiction, and self-confidence.

I am a huge fan of Sarah's and I am so happy to see that she's written another honest and emotional book in THESE GIRLS. Very highly recommended!

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a copy of this novel.


Mystica said...

I've read two of her books and liked them very much. This one is new to me. Will be looking out for this one.

Serena said...

sounds like another winner...can't wait to meet her at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Sandy Nawrot said...

This book was so real, and the characters were very relatable. I loved all three women, and I really really hope Pekkanen decides to make a sequel because I wasn't really done hanging out with them!

bermudaonion said...

Pekkanen is one of my favorites too. I was hoping to have this read by now but haven't managed to squeeze it in. I'll get to it soon!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Everyone is loving this book, as they usually do with her books!

Beth F said...

I'm a big fan of Pekkanen too. I haven't yet gotten to it. But now that I'm less busy, I hope to speed up my reading.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I've heard such amazing things about this! I really need to read it. Thank you for the lovely review.

Amritorupa Kanjilal said...

Someone sent me a book (in ebook form) by Sarah Pekkannen called The zOpposite of me. I haven't read it yet, but your review of this other book makes me want to know this writer better.
First time on your blog, and I liked your reviews very much. You never lose sight of the fact that reading is meant to be for fun. Following you now!
Please do visit my book blog at https://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/
And if you like the blog, please follow. looking forward to having you as a reader! Thank you.