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Dreams of Significant Girls

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  450 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews

Shirin is an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom. The three are roommates at a Swiss boarding school, where they spend their summers learning more than French and European culture. As the girls’ paths cross and merge—summers together, school years separate—they navigate social and cultural differences

Hardcover, 238 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Honey Girl by Lisa  FreemanLove and Haight by Susan  CarltonDreams of Significant Girls by Cristina GarcíaFor What It's Worth by Janet TashjianGo Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
YA set in the 1970s
3rd out of 59 books — 27 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Boarding School Stories
238th out of 579 books — 825 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,159)
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Jun 25, 2011 Aleeeeeza rated it really liked it
The first thing I’m going to say about this book on my review is: What is up with the title?! Because honestly, when I first saw it on Galley Grab, I sort of assumed it was a story about lesbian lovers and decided to skip it, since I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of book. And then I stumbled upon a Goodreads review of it by this fantastic blogger, and I went, “Hey, this sounds really good!”

It turned out the book was NOT about lesbian lovers, no, but actually three girls and three summers they
Morgan F
This book failed. It was about three privileged girls from different backgrounds around the world building a friendship over the course of three summers at a posh summer camp (which was really just a boarding school). Oh yeah, and it took place in the 70's. I don't know why it took place in the 70's, but WWII did play a small (and hilarious) part in the novel.

Well, I can tell what this book wanted to be. It wanted to be this beautiful, stunning story of how three girls from such different backg
Apr 05, 2011 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
This is not a book. Dreams of Significant Girls is a finely crafted vessel, and the story beautifully braids together three different narratives into a single, strong anchor. I didn't want to put it down.

As the synopsis says, the three girls are sent by their families to a premier Swiss boarding school for a summer session. Each girl is sent for a different reason, and each has her own goals and gripes associated with the trip. The three are placed in the same dorm room together, and each fills
Cass -  Words on Paper

DREAMS OF SIGNIFICANT GIRLS reads like The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, aimed at a substantially higher age group. Set in the 1970s, Garcia's strengths lie in honestly exploring mature awakenings in young teenagers with an air of both sensitivity and brashness, but also the friendships that the girls develop. The three girls who we follow in this book, Shirin, Vivien and Ingrid, change so much during and inbetween the three summers at PierPont Boarding School for Girls, that it makes
Jun 05, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing
A beautiful narrative, rendered so faithfully I can't believe I wasn't reading about real people.
Feb 18, 2013 Grace rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I don't even know why I picked up this book in the first place. The title was really unappealing, and the synopsis portrayed the characters as complete snobs. Yet I still grabbed this book off that library shelf, and now I do not regret doing so.

This story revolves around three girls, and three summers. Vivien comes from a loud and boisterous family, but still struggles to find her true self; Shirin is the baby of the family, the Iranian princess that has it all; and Ingrid is a feisty
Oct 11, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it
I loved the writing, as it was really literary, and the food descriptions could almost be tasted. This book reminded me a lot of Nina de Gramont's GOSSIP OF THE STARLINGS, right down to the boarding school, the drug and sexual content and brutality therein, the acts of defiance on the parts of the characters, and the writing style.

However, I found it hard to understand the motivations of the characters. They acted on impulse, all three of them, but I never quite got the whys of it. It made it d
Jul 24, 2016 Caline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5 golden stars and special place in my heart and favorites shelf.

This literary masterpiece embodies everything I am fervently passionate about in my life

The liberation and joie de vivre of the 70's (my favorite era),

A dash of historical elements featuring WW2, the Iranian and Cuban Revolution, and an array of international occurrences Ingrid covered during her career as a photographic journalist,

Realistic and bittersweet occurrences in life and the power of fate,

The power of a female friends
kristin (paper reader)
This book was almost like stepping into a painting: bright, vivid, and realistic.

This was less like a book and more of a glimpse into a looking glass showing us a reflection of the story of three completely different girls. Through varying situations in their lives they ended up at a posh Swiss boarding school, each wondering just what they could possibly get out of the situation. But more than getting something out of it, their experience changes their worldview and themselves.

To be h
Books and Literature for Teens
Advertised as being similar to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Dreams of Significant Girls was not at all what I expected it to be. First of all it takes places in the 1970s at a boarding school for wealthy girls. Not only do these girls attend the summer camp to get away from their parents, but to mingle with boys, take drugs, and drink. Perhaps not all of the three girls had these intentions but one girl in particular–Ingrid–was up to no good throughout most of the book. I dislike the atmos ...more
May 11, 2012 Jordyn marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition

I feel like I'm getting (even) more selective with the books I read. This was one I was really looking forward to, also. A combination of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with a Swiss boarding school/summer camp element (which OF COURSE reminds me of Bloomability) meant this book had a lot to live up to. And it never really captured me, sadly. Though the writing has a very pretty quality to it, the characters themselves were difficult to like. Both Ingrid and Shirin seemed extrem
Sep 30, 2011 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: ncbla, strong-women
I think I loved the title of the book a whole lot more than I ended up loving the book. While it held promise in tackling several issues, on the whole it didn't deliver. The premise is not particularly new: Three very different girls bond over the course of three summers at a Swiss boarding school. The story is told, by turns, by the three girls--Shirin from Iran, Ingrid from Canada, and Vivien from New York City. Although Vivien's ancestry is Cuban-Jewish, she seems more preoccupied by her pare ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Becky rated it it was ok
Dreams of Significant Girls manages to touch on all the "issues" of issue books - depression, divorce, sexual assault, slut-shaming, statutory rape, absent parents, suicide, abortion, homosexuality, revolution, war, genocide, you name it! - without actually saying much about any of those experiences. To do this, Garcia uses three rich girls, one American (of Cuban and Jewish descent), one Canadian (of German descent) and one Iranian Princess. Vivien, Ingrid, and Shirin are thrown together as roo ...more
Kim Miller-Davis
Jun 22, 2014 Kim Miller-Davis rated it really liked it
This did not seem like a "young adult" book. It is a beautiful story of three very different girls from diverse cultures and backgrounds who meet every summer at a boarding school camp in Switzerland. Because it is placed in the early 1970s (with an epilogue from 1983), their coming-of-age is a partially a reflection of the women's rights movement that was gathering momentum at that time. As an adult, I seriously enjoyed this book--but my guess is that it is probably a little too sophisticated f ...more
3.5 stars

I liked this book, I really did. But there were a couple problems, the main two being: this book needed to be at least two hundred pages longer, but any length other than what it was would have left me totally burnt out.

I thought the characters were interesting, if not a bit frustrating. However, their friendship, the whole point of this story, did not feel fleshed out enough to me. There was hardly any deep communication between the three - Shirin often never shared major and traumati
David Fulmer
This novel about three girls attending a Swiss Boarding school in the 1970s starts promisingly, with a potentially interesting cast of characters coming from Iran, Canada, the US and elsewhere with personalities ranging from the bohemian to the ambitious. Unfortunately neither the main characters nor their foreign period setting really comes alive in this novel which increasingly takes on all the characteristics of an after-school special, with a variety of traumas and embarrassing moments mixed ...more
Mar 05, 2016 Sophia rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Salma Phaosoung
Nov 04, 2013 Salma Phaosoung rated it it was amazing
If you are going to read this book, you have to be a girl, into boy drama, and used to listening to others perspective. This book also has curse words and it talks about relationship pro's and con's.
Aug 28, 2016 Alison added it
Shelves: 2016, dnf
Dreams of Significant Girls I was just starting to get on board with this book when I had to quit because of the attempted murder of Midori. I'm sure this sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. The character grabs Midori's foot, drags her down to the deep part of the pool and even that won't get her expelled from this camp... can't tell if it's because she's white or her family's very rich. Either way, it was super gross, and I'm done with this book now.
Stories & Sweeties {Becky}
Jul 23, 2011 Stories & Sweeties {Becky} rated it really liked it
While I didn't absolutely love this one, Dreams of Significant Girls had a strange way of keeping me captive for the few days it took to read it. Watching these three girls from completely different walks of life interact with each other was somehow completely fascinating. The story went along at a bit of a steady, quiet pace. This had a lot to do with the way it was told---alternating perspectives of the three girls and with a journal entry-style tense. Much like you would if you were reading s ...more
Jul 17, 2013 Hannah rated it it was ok
Dreams of Significant Girls just has too much going on. The book's 250 pages just aren't enough to explore the stories of three narrators over the course of three years. There were a lot of interesting storylines, but nothing gets explored in enough depth, making Dreams of Significant Girls a very underwhelming read for me.

I liked the idea of these characters, but the characterization leaves much to be desired. Ingrid seemed like an intriguing character, but she turned out to be nothing more tha
Ms. Library
Aug 13, 2012 Ms. Library rated it really liked it
A lot of people have made the comparison to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I definitely think its an apt one, because this book also focuses on teenage girls being friends, and how that affects their lives. It takes place during three summers in the seventies at a Swiss boarding school camp, and it focuses on three different girls: Shirin-the the Iranian princess, Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker, and Ingrid-the German-Canadian. These girls past informs their present, and I think Garcia doe ...more
Cheryl A
Jun 06, 2013 Cheryl A rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Other than novels written in the 1970's, this is a decade mostly forgotten, especially in the young adult area. Although there were no iconic events as in earlier decades (WWII, Cold War, Vietnam), the 1970's were a time of great upheaval and change - dealing with the past and moving into the future.

This is the theme for this thoughtful novel. Ingrid is a rebellious Canadian-German whose father is haunted by his Nazi past. Vivien is a Jewish Cuban whose family has fled not only Cuba, but Miami a
Monica Fumarolo
Apr 20, 2013 Monica Fumarolo rated it liked it
Vivien, Shirin, and Ingrid have absolutely nothing in common, at least on the surface. One is a Cuban-Jew who loves food and lives in New York, one is a German-Canadian wild child, and one is quite literally an Iranian princess. The only thing they share are three summers together at a boarding school/camp in Switzerland in the early 1970s. During that time, these girls become the unlikeliest of friends as they navigate relationships, families, expectations, and the desire to follow their own dr ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Melee rated it it was ok
Apparently the 'dreams of significant girls' don't involve much more than boys and sex. Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh - the girls did have passions that later developed into careers but those took backseat and I feel more space than necessary was devoted to the girls' amours. My inner feminist made her presence known, making grumbling noises practically the entire time I was reading. (And it takes a lot to get my inner feminist up and running. She's buried pretty deep down.)

It's a shame, really
Oct 25, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: journey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2011 Alex rated it it was ok
At First Sight: Three different girls clash at an exclusive Swiss summer camp - at a boarding school - in the early 1970's. The three of them come from privileged backgrounds but couldn't be more different. German/Canadian Ingrid is loud, bold and eccentric; Iranian Shirin is conservative, quiet and a brilliant mathematician; Cuban Jewish Vivian moved from Miami to New York, likes to dance and LOVES to cook.

They get stuck as roommates during that first summer - and the two following ones - as th
Sep 09, 2011 Andy rated it it was ok
In theory this book could have been fabulous, but I felt that in execution it fell a bit short. Granted that this is not generally the type of book i'd read maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but this is what I thought of it.
Good characters- I thought the three girls, Vivien, Shirin and Ingrid, were well done. They're personalities were as diverse as they're brackrounds. They were fun to read about and well formed.

Interesting setting- I know it's been done before but the whole boarding school for a
Sep 25, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it
Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia, in the genre of Realsitic Fiction, is a compelling book full of friendships, family problems, and heartbreaks. Set in the 1970s, this book is about three girls,Vivien, Shirin, and Ingrid, who all go to a Swiss summer program. Shirin is a Iranian princess, Ingrid a Canidian delinquent, and Vivien a Cuban Jew, and when they all meet their thoughts are as different as they are. As the first summer goes on they don't get any closer, yet are all going t ...more
Aug 15, 2011 L_manning rated it liked it
Following three summers at a boarding school in Switzerland, this book tells the story of three very different girls who become friends. Ingrid is the "wild" and "crazy" one, Vivien is the sweet one, and Shirin is the more uptight and formal one. The girls are thrown together as roommates, and the slowly bond through shared experiences. These bonds help shape their lives and their futures.

With a title like this one, I was expecting something profound or more interesting that what I got. Apparent
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Dreams of Significant Girls 1 3 Aug 15, 2013 08:13AM  
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After working for Time Magazine as a researcher, reporter, and Miami bureau chief, García turned to writing fiction. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban (1992), received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. Her fourth ...more
More about Cristina García...

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“You never knew what to expect with Ingrid. One minute she could be sawing the locks off Pierpont's freezers; the next, providing shelter for the homeless birds of Switzerland.” 3 likes
“...No small amount of schadenfreude. Do you know what that means?"

"Dad, it's the lifeline of gossip. Of course I know what it means.”
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