Thursday, April 12, 2012
Review: "These Girls" by Sarah Pekkanen
Renee looks at Cate's life with envy. Slightly overweight and definitely underpaid, she will do anything to nab the job as the beauty editor of Gloss, even if that means relying on black market diet pills to shed those few extra pesky pounds. Will Renee gain the job that she's always coveted or will she lose everything that she had in the first place?
Shy and quiet Abby is a recent transplant to New York from D.C. Cate and Renee struggle to discover what happened to her there that would have made Abby flee her seemingly happy life as a nanny to a little girl that she adored and a graduate student.
These Girls tells the story of these three very different women as they struggle to navigate the path that life has laid out for them, and as they learn to rely on one another for friendship.
I must warn you that I'm a bit of a Sarah Pekkanen fangirl, and I just can't help the excitement that comes with reading one of her latest novels. In fact she is one of the authors whose books have made it onto my permanent bookshelves. I was thrilled when These Girls arrived in the mail, and I was certainly not disappointed when I read it.
The ultimate theme of These Girls is the exploration of female friendships and how they work. As a woman for whom female friendships have not always come easily (although I am blessed with the friendship of a group of great women now, it did take a while for these friendships to form) I appreciated the fact that these three very different women did not instantly share a bond. I get tired of reading books where the friends who the plot is formed around have always been best friends and have been through everything together and who just happen to still be best friends into adulthood. The friendship that emerges between Cate, Renee, and Abby is earned, little by little, piece by piece. In fact in the beginning of the book Cate laments that it is not easy for her to relax and open up to the far more friendly character of Renee. Pekkanen's observations about women and how they interact with one another as they navigate their thirties were spot on.
Although These Girls explores the theme of friendship, it also explores each woman's individual story in depth. Although I enjoyed both Cate and Abby's stories, I found myself relating the most to Renee, the slightly overweight, eager-to-please nice girl. Renee is that typical woman who finds herself so anxious to be liked by those around her that she finds it irrelevant if she actually likes herself. When Renee receives nasty comments on her blog regarding her weight something inside of her snaps and she decides to do anything to lose weight, even if that means ordering black market diet pills off of the Internet. While the pills have their intended result, the changes in her behavior threaten to alienate all those around her. I think that most women will find something about Renee that they were able to relate to, whether that be her insecurities or her desire to please people at her own expense.
These Girls is an engaging story about three very different women and the bonds that form between them as they discover what adulthood has in store for them. As with all of Sarah Pekkanen's novels I had a hard time putting it down once I picked it up and am thrilled to recommend it to anyone looking to read women's fiction filled with depth and heart.