Charlynn's Reviews > Certain Girls

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
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Jul 15, 12

Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy

Set thirteen years after Good in Bed, Certain Girls finds Cannie Shapiro-Krushelevansky settled and content – happily married, secretly penning a popular sci-fi book series under a pseudonym, and mothering her perfect girl, her Joy. Having left the flash and notoriety of her un-filmed screenplay and her sensational bestseller behind, to the outside observer, Cannie's life would seem staid and pedestrian, but Cannie has never been more at peace with herself or her body. But that's before her daughter turns thirteen and sullen on the cusp of womanhood and her looming bat mitzvah and before her husband announces that he wants to have another child – via surrogacy, of course. It's nearly impossible for Cannie to wrap her mind around the idea of another child when she still sees Joy as her baby girl.

Conversely, Joy believes herself to be anything but a child, let alone a baby. Not only does she resent her mother's hovering, but then she reads Cannie's novel... Cannie's novel full of illicit sexual escapades and the harsh, cold – what Joy perceives to be the truthful – tale of how she was an unwanted mistake. This spurs Joy into an investigation to discover what really happened in her mother's past, and, along the way, she discovers herself, too.

Unconventionally, Certain Girls is told from two perspectives: both Cannie's and her daughter's. At first, this was disconcerting. It took nearly the entire prequel to this novel for Cannie to grow up, and then Weiner devotes half of this follow-up work to a thirteen year old's thoughts and narration. Through Joy, the focus on the physical, the shallowness returned. Even though this is to be expected from someone so young and impressionable, most readers would head to the Young Adult section if they wanted to read a coming of age story. And Cannie's portion of the novel wasn't faultless either. She kept making the same mistakes with her daughter, mistakes that were obvious to the audience but then apparently oblivious to Cannie, a frustrating pattern of parental ineptness. But then this all shifted in the closing chapters of the book. Joy grew up, and Cannie grew a little wiser – less perfect but wiser nonetheless. The result? As Peter beseeched his wife to do, Weiner wrote something this time with Certain Girls that is real. Oh, Cannie's still a plus-sized heroine, but, just as she now has more depth as a character in this novel, so, too, does Weiner's writing and plotting. Despite the improvements, however, this book is still only for a limited audience: women... and women who enjoy male bashing, male ignorance, and female empowerment, because Certain Girls is an apt title for this work, for it's certainly about girls, and a few boys are sprinkled in for angst and the furtherance of the plot. All in all, though, Certain Girls is a much stronger outing for Weiner.
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