Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: Certain Girls

Jennifer Weiner. Certain Girls. Washington Square Press:2009.

I've been a Jennifer Weiner fan since Good in Bed; Certain Girls continues the characters developed first in Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, but as Weiner has grown and developed over time, so have her characters and plots. This novel isn't as light and fluffy as a lot of chicklit - it depicts serious subjects, romance doesn't solve all problems, and there's only a little discussion of shoes and outfits. What it does offer, though, is a great combination of female voices and female characters struggling with issues that relate to real womens' lives.

In Certain GirlsWeiner alternates the chapters between the voices of Cannie Shapiro (the heroine of Good in Bed) and her 12-year-old daughter Joy as they struggle with Joy's growing maturity and independence and Cannie's desire to protect her daughter, even from Cannie's own past. The transition between narrators at the end of each chapter could be jarring, particularly because Cannie's voice felt so familiar and natural to me. Joy's chapters, however, would make an excellent young adult novel and I would be pleased if Weiner branched out into this genre. The two stories wove together into a beautiful exploration of the troubled relationships between mothers and daughters and the love and tragedy that affect ordinary womens' lives.

I loved this book, at least partially because I love Jennifer Weiner's smart, sarcastic, literate voice. Combining that with the angst and struggle of a YA book, and I couldn't help but love it. It's sort of Gossip Girl meets Good In Bed and it's even better for the combination. While this is not intended for Young Adult audience, there's nothing too graphic, but there are some serious dramatic moments.