Title: These Girls
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cate, Renee, and Abby are three young single women living together in New York City. Cate is the new features editor of Gloss magazine and is focused on making her first issue in that position a success. However, Cate is haunted by a secret from her past, one that could tear down all that she’s worked to accomplish. Renee also works at Gloss and is angling for a promotion, but she feels that her curvy body holds her back and is desperate to shed some pounds. Abby was working as a nanny in Maryland to an adorable young girl, but she fled to New York for reasons unknown. Each of these women must face her own trials, but they will find support in one another.
Sarah Pekkanen’s third novel is a breezy yet contemplative novel that pays tribute to the power of female friendships. Though they live together, Cate and Renee aren’t exactly close friends. They each feel alone in the world, weighed down by their own problems. Similarly, Abby doesn’t have anyone to turn to after things go badly at her nanny job. She flees to her brother, who sets her up as Cate’s and Renee’s third roommate. As Cate and Renee care for emotionally fragile Abby, they begin to open up to one another and become a true support system for each other.
All three characters in These Girls are interesting and complex, but it’s Renee that really captured my attention. She’s a beautiful, curvy woman who isn’t bone thin (and if she were, it wouldn’t suit her body type or her vivacious personality), but the women she is surrounded by at the magazine have the body she wants. Indeed, she’s afraid that she might be passed over for a promotion because she doesn’t fit the “look” of the magazine. Her body image issues are sad, but even worse, this message is all-too-relevant in today’s society. Through Renee, Pekkanen comments on societal pressure to be thin, and the difficult and often dangerous consequences that can have for women.
Cate is also a fascinating character in These Girls. She has accomplished a lot in her years at the magazine – being named features editor at such a young age is almost unheard of in the magazine industry. She feels a lot of pressure to perform, especially when those who work for her challenge her authority. Cate’s story focuses more on the professional side, while Abby’s hones in on matters of the heart. Each of these women are realistic and Pekkanen avoids the character clichés that seem to plague women’s fiction novels these days.
Overall, These Girls is an enjoyable novel that readers will likely want to devour in one sitting. The realistic characters and the issues they must face will have reads itching to discuss the contents of this book, and as a result, it would make a great book club pick. This is a great choice for those new to Pekkanen’s work, but her devoted fans will be satisfied with this novel as well.
Other books by Sarah Pekkanen: