Review: These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Original edition (April 10, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1451612540
  • Source: Publisher

Three young women, Cate, Renee, and Abby, have come from vary different backgrounds. They all wind up in New York, each escaping and old life, desperate to start a new one.

Cate is the new features editor for Gloss, a high-end magazine. Her new position is a challenging one as she’s desperate to come up with a unique feature story. She’s encouraged her roommate, Renee, to apply for her old position as beauty editor. While trying to live up to her new position, she can’t help but worry that a lie that might dig out of her past and resurface, potentially destroying her career, and her friendships.

Renee has the qualifications for the job, but her own self-image holds her back. When the three candidates are told the public’s vote will decide who assumes the position, Renee’s issues with her weight put her in a panic. She tries the traditional routes of diet and exercise but with no pay-off. When she discovers diet pills belonging to a former fashion model roommate, she begins taking them, liberally. The side effects of a racing heart, insomnia and fainting don’t sway her to stop using them for the rapid weight loss is exactly what her self-esteem needs.

Abby is the sister of Trey, a simply breathtakingly attractive man that both Cate & Renee have their eyes on.  Abby had the perfect job as a nanny for a gorgeous toddler, Annabelle. This little girl quickly earned a place in her heart, like she was her own child. Burdened with the memories of the death of her brother when she was just a few years older than Annabelle, Abby frequently experiences panic attacks while driving. Uncertain of the cause of these attacks, unable to confront her parents, she is forced to deal with them herself. When her relationship with Annabelle’s father crosses the line into a romantic relationship, Abby is unable to deal with the flood of emotions that overcome her. She leaves her job, racing to New York  where Trey, her salvation, lives.Desperate to help his sister, Trey asks Renee & Cate for help. Abby stays with the two roommates while Trey travels, eventually becoming a permanent addition.

All three girls have seemingly perfect lives. What makes them real, genuine characters is the existence of faults within each of them. The friendship that they share with one another is what brings them together, saves them from the chaos raging in their lives. Pekkanen has this uncanny ability to understand the intricacies of  female relationships, creating completely flawed, yet genuine characters. She doesn’t sugar-coat the issues they are each experiencing, yet lays each of the problems out for her readers to devourer. One can’t help but root for each of these women, finding that we all have a bit of each of them residing inside us.  I saw aspects of my own friendships and relationships in Cate, Renee, and Abby. Upon completing this book, I emailed each of my closest friends just to let them know how much our friendship means to me.

The secondary characters are also ones that we can each identify with. From Trey, the perfect guy, incredibly supportive brother to Nigel, the creepy editor-in-chief of Gloss magazine, they each propel the main characters, in their own (sometimes unique) way, to become the women they seek to be.

Several statements Pekkanen made in her novel ring true to me. Following are just a few samples:

“…the hardest things to talk about are also the most important things to talk about.”

“The process is more important than the result. That’s where the real learning is.”

I believe each of these statements can be applicable to almost any major decision, process, obstacle that we all face in life.

Bottom line: These Girls is a book that one can’t help but savor, devour, in one sitting as I did. Highly recommended.