Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway

If I am reading a fiction book, then, hands down, my favorite genre to read is chick lit.  Sure, I went through a brief, albeit misguided, historical fiction phase and I am always a sucker for a brilliant cover, but, by and large, my loyalties remain true to stories about women written by women.  Generally, I’ll avoid books that discuss lives are ravaged by the death of their husband/children/childhood best friend or that discuss drug addiction, terminal illness, death or divorce. Lucky for me, that still leaves room for the majority of so-called chick lit books.

These books, about women who are roughly my age or just a bit older, appeal to me because they’re inspiring.  They make me want to jump outside and help someone/write/fall in love/talk to my best friend/live life.  Chick lit books are a step up from romantic comedies (which, let’s be honest, are the only genre of movie that I get truly excited about) because they take you inside the protagonist’s head and make you root for her even more.  I cannot think of any other genre that can simultaneously inspire you, make you laugh, make you cry and feel insanely good about the world.

Right after getting back from Providence, I headed to Barnes and Nobles to use up a gift card I received for my birthday.  I had vague notions about what I might get.  Perhaps The Forgotten Garden or Snobs.  I didn’t really know.

Until I did.

When walking in, Ten Girls to Watch shouted at me from the noteworthy paperbacks table.  The cover!  The blurb!  It practically yelled at me to pick it up.  Combine that with the fact that the book is about a just-out-of-college girl who wants to work in the media and I had practically bought it before I finished reading a random excerpt.  Except, I needed to be thorough and I spent a half hour browsing through the rest of the books making sure I knew which one was it.

Charity Shumway’s Ten Girls to Watch follows Dawn West, an east coast transplant from Oregon by way of Massachusetts.  She’s sick of being jobless, sick of living with her messy roommate and just broke up with her boyfriend of four years.  Then she meets editor of Charm magazine and manages to get a part time job organizing a 50th anniversary feature for the magazine’s ten college girls to watch feature.

The book has the tone of a traditional chick lit novel, but manages to smash every stereotype you could think of and make you enjoy it at the same time.  As soon as I finished, it was all I could to stop myself from running outside and telling everyone how great it was.  The plot has every archetypical character: the protagonist, the mean girl, the love interest, the bad guy, the mentor and the weird roommate, but transforms them, making the characters feel more real, but still fantastically perfect.  I couldn’t stop raving about them.

The story, as well, is top rate.  If nothing else, then it’s impossible to not finish reading and feel inspired in with your career, with your friendships, with your love life and with your future.  Part of the ‘message’ (I know, it’s so fifth grade english class) is definitely that wherever you are right now is the right place to be.  It’s the kind of message that fits into other books I’ve been reading like Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein and Linchpin.

If you enjoy feel-good, inspring novels that break molds rather than fit into them, then you will love Ten Girls to Watch.  Read it?  Planning to read it?  Let me know what you think!  This is one of those books that I would adore talking about with someone (anyone out there in a book club: this would be a great book to read!).

What was the most inspiring book you read recently?

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