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Dreams of Significant Girls

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  492 ratings  ·  105 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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Average rating 3.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  492 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Jun 12, 2011 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
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
Jan 29, 2011 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
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, t
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful narrative, rendered so faithfully I can't believe I wasn't reading about real people.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-owned, 2017
Disappointed that Ingrid did not end up bi or a lesbian or anything when that was the way it should be.
Feb 18, 2013 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 Ing
Oct 10, 2011 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
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I believe the feeling would never end. We hugged so hard and so long that we knew we'd stay together no matter how far afield we went. if you'd ask any of us where our dreams might take us, our answers wouldn't have been as certain as knowing, in our hearts, that our friendship would last forever."

The first impression when I read the first chapter of this book is that there is a possibility that I fall in love with it. And so do I. I love the themes that the book set is a boarding school in Swi
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
Sep 30, 2011 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
Aug 02, 2011 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 extreme in d
May 17, 2011 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 g
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 worldvie
May 15, 2015 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 fe
Apr 29, 2013 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
Salma Phaosoung
Oct 24, 2013 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.
❄Elsa Frost❄
Feb 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Honestly, this book is just so-so. I was expecting more, and instead got far less. I can see why some people would really like this kind of book and how some, like me, wouldn't really like it at all. I've constructed a list below that shows more about my likes and dislikes of this book.

Things not working for this book:

1. Repetition of the word "exotic" when describing people in poverty in other countries. That's just odd that someone would do that.

2. "At least
Not terrible, but slow. Set over the course of three summers (with a ten-years-later epilogue), Dreams of Significant Girls follows three (not very significant?) girls at a summer camp in Switzerland in the early 70s.

The spread-out timeline gives the three characters more room to develop, but it also means that a lot of that development takes place off-page. Shirin, for example, spends the year after their first summer in the throes of a nervous breakdown (or something like that) and comes bac
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was pretty good. For the most part I really enjoyed it. Honestly, the one downside for me was that Ingrid just got on my nerves. I adored Vivien and I also enjoyed Shirin as well. I would honestly really like for there to be some Novellas about the girls' personal lives away from each other. I want more of Shirin with her brothers and parents in Iran. I would love to be able to read a short about the interaction and the time period surrounding the encounter between Ingrid and Vivien's ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really loved all three of the narrators, love the 70s, love Swiss boarding school books in general. Truly captured the delicacies of international friendship- it’s such a strange beast. The last line is amazing. It makes me so glad I’m trying to keep up global friendships in these cheap and easy to communicate times.
Cori Reed
This was a quick read set over three summers in the 1970s at a Swiss boarding school. Overall I enjoyed it, but I didn't really appreciate the way is approached sexuality, and there were definitely some other parts that made me a bit uncomfortable.

Jun 03, 2011 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
Mar 13, 2013 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 noth
Sep 12, 2013 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
Monica Fumarolo
Apr 20, 2013 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
Stories & Sweeties {Becky}
Mar 07, 2011 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
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
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: journey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
really enjoyed “Dreams of Significant Girls”. It’s a nice story about three girls from different countries meeting up three subsequent years. Each girls has her own problem and story to tell and they grow together. The book is divided into three smaller books, in which one character is the main character. Between the books there are letters, which the three girls write each other until they see each other again at boarding school in summer. I really liked that the girls were so different. I also ...more
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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 novel, A Handbook t ...more
“Jan-Peter offered to teach me the language of Amsterdam's red light district. ...But after his first phrase--'Using the back door will cost you double'--I withdrew my request.” 3 likes
“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
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