Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Book Thoughts - Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway
published July, 2012
Synopsis from publisher:
Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a writing career that’s gotten about as far as penning an online lawn care advice column, and a small hometown in Oregon that’s her last recourse if she can’t make next month’s rent.
So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. Not only is she being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women, but she’s also sharing office space with “Secret Agent Romance,” Charm’s resident dating columnist, and he just happens to be giving her butterflies.
As Dawn gets to know the life stories of these former winners, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. And even more importantly, she’ll find that though those who have gone before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to carve our own way.
I found this book to be quite delightful. Honestly, that was the word that kept popping into my head as I read - "This book is just delightful." Novels in this chick-lit-y vein can be very hit or miss for me - sometimes they are fun, and sometimes they just annoy me. Ten Girls to Watch seemed like a cut above the rest. Shumway's writing certainly helped - she clearly knows her craft, and she had me alternately giggling and getting emotional several times throughout the novel.
I think what really sold me, though, was how REAL this novel felt. Perhaps because much of it was based on the author's own personal experience (read an interesting interview with Shumway on HuffPost here), perhaps because the author is just a really good storyteller, but Ten Girls to Watch rang true for me in nearly every aspect.
Dawn is a delightful heroine (I know, that word again!), mixing a bit of Bridget Jones with a healthy dose of reality. She makes mistakes, but they don't feel contrived to further the plot - they actually seem like the things a girl her age would do, and then feel bad about. To me, she never presented as whiny or tiresome - she had problems, acknowledged them, and moved on. I enjoyed her sense of humor very much, as well as her ability to laugh at herself.
I particularly enjoyed Shumway's emphasis on the importance of releationships between women. Dawn's relationship with her sister, her mother, her mentor, and her friend were the threads that held her life together, and were a reminder of just how important it is for women to truly participate in each other's lives.
This novel was a breath of fresh air, making me smile on nearly every page. I'm so happy I read it, and highly recommend it!
Source: review copy from publisher - thank you!
MPAA Rating - PG-13 (I know! It's a chick-lit that doesn't make you blush - and it works!)
My rating: 9/10