Monday, April 30, 2012

These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen (Review and Interview)

These Girls by Sarak Pekkanen
Washington Square Press
ISBN: 978-1451612547
Published April 10, 2012
Trade paperback, 336 pages

This is the first book I read from Sarah Pekkanen and it certainly won't be my last. These Girls is a celebration of friendships. It's about the bond of girlfriends, that nurturing spirit between them that penetrates deeply to heal and soothe. It made me appreciate the wonderful girlfriends in my own life.

Cate and Renee become roommates after they meet in New York City, working at Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. Cate has just been promoted to features editor and wants to make a great first impression, while craving anonymity from a shameful past. Renee wants the beauty editor job that is up for grabs, but she struggles with her weight and takes a short cut to weight loss that puts her health at risk. Abby is a graduate student who works as a part-time nanny in Maryland. She runs away to her brother Trey in NYC, shocked by something she's done, and is taken in as the third roommate with Cate and Renee.

All three women are different, and yet I could relate to all of them, especially Cate. Renee had a wonderful sense of humour. I just loved her! She was kind and thoughtful, and I felt for her when she got snide remarks because of her weight. Abby was more complex, and I didn't know where her story led until the very end, and then I ached for her. The way the lives of these girls came together, intermingled and finally forged created a true-to life plot.

There are various relationships that Pekkanen explores without cluttering the story: between parents and their grown children, between siblings, between friends, and between men and women. She reveals the women's individual stories and secrets a little at a time and it kept me turning the pages quickly. I found myself enjoying all three of the girls' lives and quickly became immersed in them and was able to transition from one to the other.

If you like contemporary fiction with an emphasis on women's relationships, Pekkanen delivers a heartfelt rendition of three young women and their journeys to personal and professional happiness.

Note: This book is rated S = sexual scenes, and P = mild profanity for three f-words.
I will count this book toward the following challenges: A - Z Book Challenge

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Pekkanen. Please help me welcome her to LCR!

Author Interview:

LCR: You have a remarkable way of weaving simple yet complex relationships in your novels. Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
SP: Thank you! I'm fascinated by relationships and all of my novels center around the important ones in a woman's life: my first book, The Opposite of Me, was about sisters; my second, Skipping a Beat, was about a marriage; and These Girls is about friendship. My ideas form slowly - I'm not one of those authors who gets zapped by a lightning bolt of inspiration and suddenly envisions the entire outline for a book. I tend to ruminate on an idea, add a bit to it, take a little out, let it stew a while longer.... my subconscious is actually my partner in inspiration, because it does a lot of work while I tend to mundane tasks like putting away laundry and walking the dog.
LCR: Now, I can't wait to read your other books! Where do you write your stories?

SP: Forget the idealistic vision of an author sitting in a little beach cottage, writing with only the sound of the waves for company. Though it sounds like a dreamy experience, I've got three kids and they're my priority, so I fit in writing around the margins of their lives. Sometimes it means piling up pages in my minivan while I sit at soccer practice; other times I've rewritten scenes in the back row of a movie theater while my kids watched the new Disney release. I've learned to write on the fly, out of necessity, and I'm actually glad because now I never waste time - if I'm traveling by train or bus, I've got my laptop and I'm working.

LCR: Yeah...I've written some of my scenes at the park and while supervising bathtime. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? 

SP: Great question - it would be wonderful to be a flapper in the jazz age! Think of the music and dancing!

LCR: Your answer makes me think of the movie Midnight in Paris. What’s the latest book you’ve read and loved? 

SP: I just finished The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler, and thought it was beautiful. She examines the lives of quiet, quirky people and somehow makes them the most fascinating characters you've ever encountered. I'm in awe of her grace as a writer, and I love her humor. When I turned the last page of the book, I just sat there in stunned silence for a few minutes - it was that good.

LCR: I love books with those kind of endings. What is the most difficult thing you’ve encountered as an author? The best thing? 

SP: Blurbs are tricky. I don't like asking for them, and I feel awful when other authors ask me to blurb their novels and I'm unable to for various reasons. But luckily, there are so many best things about being an author! I love going into a bookstore, finding my novels on a shelf, and just staring at them. The thrill remains every bit as exciting as the first time I spotted my books in a store, and I hope it always will be. 

LCR: Thanks, Sarah!
For more on Sarah Pekkanen and her books, visit her website.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to Sparkpoint Studio for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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