Published April 2012
In New York City, three women are drawn together by happenstance via a cramped apartment. Cate is trying to find her way through a new high-ranking job position; Renee hopes that if she finally loses that stubborn 20 pounds she'll finally get everything she's ever wanted; Abby is running from a terrible secret - and everything she's ever wanted. Through these trial and tribulations, they begin to discover new relationships with each other - and themselves.
Is it possible to like a book based on how skillfully it was written, but still feel somewhat ambivalent about it? Because that is exactly what happened with this book.
On a technical level, it was great. These Girls immediately drew me in with well-executed attention grabbing opener. It was hard to stop reading because every time I got to the end of a chapter, I'd get ready to call it a night (or at 2AM, a morning I suppose) but my eyes would involuntarily stray to the next page and BAM - I'd be hooked again like a fat kid on cake, or an alkie on shaving cream. I've never personally seen someone drink shaving cream, but my mom told me about how she'd seen a guy steal a can of shaving cream from a store and then proceed to run outside with it, pound it, and then immediately unswallowed a massive puddle of fluorescent green vomit in front of said store. Yes, I grew up in the ghetto. True story. Anyways, as I was saying, the style of writing made These Girls a super quick and easy read that I never seemed to be able to put down. Heck, I read it in two days.
The dialogue was spot on and the author (via her characters) made some really astute observations without going all preachy or indulging in "Look at me, I'm so clever that we're going to beat this point to death just to be sure that you understand how astute I am."which made it a lot more enjoyable.
It was fairly fast paced, with enough drama, cattiness, secrets, romance and intrigue to keep me flipping through the pages. It was exciting enough, and I came thisclose to crying at the end.
The problem it, it's just not my kind of book. I had trouble identifying with the protagonists because I've never been in any of those situations. And to be honest, I just kind of prefer buckets of blood to fistfuls of female relationships.
But I'm more than willing to concede that just because it's not MY cup of tea, it doesn't mean it's not well written. If you like this type of book, These Girls is definitely one to pick up. Trust.
*I also had a chance to do a little Q&A with the author (which is pretty damn badass) and I'd like to share her answers with y'all.
1) Out of all the characters, who would you most want for your roommate? Probably Renee, because she has such a huge heart and would be a lot of fun to go out with at night! Renee is also warm and friendly, and I love that about her – I can be a little bit shy at times and she’s the life of the party.
2) Which character would you avoid at all costs? The only one would be the slimy magazine editor who is overly flirtatious with his young female employees. Yuck!
3) Who do you identify with the most, and is this the same character you'd most like to hang out with, or is it someone else? Probably Cate, who is the features editor for Gloss magazine. I’m pretty driven with regard to work, like Cate. But I can identify with parts of each of my main characters – Abby loves nurturing the little girl she cares for in her nanny job, and I have three boys I dote on. And Renee is insecure at times, but also friendly and accepting, and I’m the same way.
4) What was your inspiration for this story? It’s hard to pinpoint – my ideas take shape gradually; I don’t usually have that lightbulb-going-on-over-my-head moments. For me, a book idea is more like cooking a stew – I toss in lots of ingredients and let it simmer while I do other things, like walk the dog and put away laundry. My subconscious is a great help when it comes to figuring out storylines.
5) Are there certain situations, relationships, or characters from These Girls that mirror your own life? Yes and no. My experiences and observations and relationships usually make it through onto the written page – but they’re filtered through a kaleidoscope first, so they don’t resemble reality by the time they make it into my books.
6) What is your strategy for dealing with reviews that are less than glowing? I’ve been pretty lucky with reviews in general, but there’s one publication that I always joke is about to send someone over to chop off my typing fingers – for whatever reason, they just don’t like my books! But I shrug it off. It would be crazy for me to expect every single person who reads my books to love them. Also , I write reviews for places like The Washington Post and I understand that a review is just one person’s opinion on one day. It’s not the last word on your talent or career prospects. What I hear from readers is so much more important to me than what I hear from reviewers, and I have some amazingly supportive readers!
7) Do you feel more confident in your writing now that you have a few books under your belt? Or was writing your latest book as nerve-wracking as writing the first? These Girls was the first book I’ve ever written on a deadline, so I was definitely nervous. I obsessively plotted the book on index cards before writing a single word, because I was terrified I’d get blocked! But I met my deadline, and it gave me a real confidence, and my fourth book (which I just finished writing this week) came easily. Have I jinxed myself now for book five?
* Thanks so much for having me! And I’d love to connect with any readers on Facebook or Twitter @sarahpekkanen so please come find me if you’d like to chat more!