Sunday, 17 February 2013

These Girls

Title: These Girls
Author: Sarah Pekkanen

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.

I have to admit I was ambivalent about this book at first. I found it on the for-sale rack at the local Giant Tiger-its kind of like a low-grade Canadian Walmart (we do actually have Walmart here). The characters pulled me in, but I became quickly disenchanted when I thought two of the girls were about to enter a love triangle. The story focuses on three girls-Cate, Renee and Abby. Cate and Renee work for the same fashion magazine. They are both plagued with self-doubt. Renee is by far the most charming of the three. What woman can't relate with weight gain and a general feeling of inadequacy. She is by no-means large, but the world she works in makes her feel as though being a size 12 just isn't pretty enough. She tries to hard with the resident heart-throb who really likes her as a friend. The book treads dangerously close to becoming cliche when Trey (whom renee is still gaga over) falls for Cate. Cate returns those feelings, but unlike most book characters she does the right thing and puts her burgeoning friendship first. It's sweet. Trey is a good guy. He doesn't want to hurt Renee, he is a good brother to Abby and a general catch, but its so refreshing to see Cate choose her friendship with Renee over a man. She doesn't know him well enough to have actually fallen in love. The bonds that form between Abby, Renee and Cate is what holds this book together.Sarah Pekkanen avoids the pitfalls of the genre by not running rough-shod over the friendships. This is not a traditional love story, but it still counts in my opinion. Love is not just a bond shared between family and lovers, but between friends and this novel illustrates how these bonds form. The end of the story really is just a beginning and I was sad because I wanted to know what was up next for these three wonderful girls.

The downside of the novel, is that its slow-moving. It gets mired down in the details of their past and doesn't really give you clear resolutions for some of the story. Renee's relationship with her new-found sister is still an unresolved part of the plot. It's almost as if the writer got bogged down in teh diet-pill story that she totally forgot about Renee and Becca.

Despite these flaws, this novel is well worth the read.

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