Thursday, May 1, 2008

Certain Girls (eBook Edition)

I loved . It is raw, funny, honest and wise. As a woman who has struggled with her body image, I certainly relate to Cannie Shaprio.  Most women can. 

Six months ago I read the advance review for the sequel, Certain Girls.  I could hardly wait to get my hands on it.  Usually that kind of anticipation is a set up for disappointment.  Happily, Certain Girls not only did not disappoint.  It actually surpassed my expectations.

In Certain Girls Jennifer Weiner beautifully captures the complexity, pain and joy of motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood and marriage. 

At the heart of this story is the relationship between a teenage daughter and her mother.  This is arguably, the most difficult and intricate relationship on the planet.  It is exceedingly problematic even in the most "normal" family.  Cannie and Joy, however, most definitively do not have anything as bland as a normal family. 

Joy is a teenager who alternatively loves and hates her Mom.  Cannie is a Mom struggling to let her baby grow up.  The story line alternates between their points of view as they war over Cannie's (fictionalized) past, their daily interactions and Joy's upcoming Bat Mitzvah. 

Joy's Bat Mitzvah is the overarching and powerful symbol of Joy's entry into adulthood. As she makes the transition she is overcome with the need to make sense of her convoluted family tree.  She wants to know all about her Mom's and Dad's secrets, her biological Dad's new family and her very absent Grandfather.

Cannie is still working out the complicated relationships she has with her over the top lesbian Mom and ditzy but lovable little sister, Elle. And to complicate thing further, just as she is letting go of one child, her husband is lobbying for a baby. 

Weiner's ear for dialogue, her wit and compassion are all on display as she examines these complicated relationships and events.

Too often Weiner is categorized as just  a "chick-lit" writer.  The pink cover certainly reinforces that impression.   Don't be fooled.  This is not a fluffy, girly book. This is a nitty gritty account of coming to terms with the messy, complex web of family. 

The Publishers says:

Readers fell in love with Cannie Shapiro, the smart, sharp-tongued, bighearted heroine of Good in Bed who found her happy ending after her mother came out of the closet, her father fell out of her life, and her ex-boyfriend started chronicling their ex-sex life in the pages of a national magazine.

Now Cannie's back. After her debut novel -- a fictionalized (and highly sexualized) version of her life -- became an overnight bestseller, she dropped out of the public eye and turned to writing science fiction under a pseudonym. She's happily married to the tall, charming diet doctor Peter Krushelevansky and has settled into a life that she finds wonderfully predictable -- knitting in the front row of her daughter Joy's drama rehearsals, volunteering at the library, and taking over-forty yoga classes with her best friend Samantha.

As preparations for Joy's bat mitzvah begin, everything seems right in Cannie's world. Then Joy discovers the novel Cannie wrote years before and suddenly finds herself faced with what she thinks is the truth about her own conception -- the story her mother hid from her all her life. When Peter surprises his wife by saying he wants to have a baby, the family is forced to reconsider its history, its future, and what it means to be truly happy.

Radiantly funny and disarmingly tender, with Weiner's whip-smart dialogue and sharp observations of modern life, Certain Girls is an unforgettable story about love, loss, and the enduring bonds of family.

Highly recommended.

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