These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

I wish that I loved deep intellectual books about people who lived lives that were worlds away from mine.  Perhaps the classics, in addition to classical literature, would line my shelves in vintage/used editions bought from country flea markets and the Strand.  Unfortunately, it’s never going to happen.  I’m never going to be browsing the aisles of Barnes and Nobles and say ‘Hey!  This biography on an old, dead general from the civil war sounds great!  It’s nearly a thousand pages so you know the author must really have a brilliant grip on his subject.’  Excuse me but I’ve already fell asleep.

No, I prefer books about young women living in big cities (New York or London, take your pick) and working in interesting jobs.  Usually journalism, go figure.  They’re usually struggling with some kind of issue that those deep intellectuals who enjoy brooding, smoking self-rolled cigarettes and taking over exposed photos in their diana cameras call ‘superficial’.  The main characters of my favorite books struggle with work, guys and balancing they’re personal and work-related goals because we they have bright future.  Books about people dealing with death and the universe’s impending implosion don’t really enter the kinds of things I think about on a daily basis.

Basically, I like books that affirm my outlook on life (I only just realized that).

These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen was definitely one of those books.  The story follows three young women living in New York City and juggling their private lives and work worlds.  Through the course of the story they become roommates and learn about each other and the meaning of friendship as they embark on a roller coaster ride that fits neatly between the front and back covers.  Cate, newly-appointed features editor at Gloss magazine, wants to hide her past, put out a killer first issue as editor and maybe find some peace in her family life.  Renee wants to lose some weight, get a promotion so she doesn’t have to keep skimping on everything and find a boyfriend, though she kinda already knows her perfect guy.  Abby wants to escape her past and find solace in a new future in New York.  While their stories don’t wholly intersect, there’s something in each girl that everyone will be able to relate to, if you are a twenty-something young woman.

I loved the book, though I wish it had gone on for about fifty more pages.  It was light and fun, but felt real in the fact that the issues the characters faced were real issues.  The characters really felt like they could be your friends, in fact, I think some of my friends are these characters.  While the story sometimes verged on cliches, there were enough real moments that you it didn’t (always) feel hokey.

That being said, I’m probably not going to be rushing to pick up another Sarah Pekkanen novel soon.  True, I enjoy books that are light, but I wanted a bigger take away from this story than I got.  There were moments when I had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading a magazine article.  There’s a fine line between easy, breezy reading that makes you feel and reads that are pure fun.  This walked the line a bit too close to pure fun for me to feel really excited about reading another novel by Pekkanen.

If you’re looking for a light read as you gear into your fall routine, this is a good one.  I’d recommend getting it from the library or a friend, however, because you really will read it very quickly.

Light or heavy: what kind of books do you prefer for fall?

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