Book Review: Good in Bed and Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

A two-book review for you guys today – this series is warm, affectionate fun, with a lot of serous tears thrown in just to make you feel all the feelings. 

IMG_20141119_001042

I picked these books up accidentally – and I am glad I did. Good in Bed was an unexpected great read – Cannie is a great narrator with that great mix of sarcasm and earnestness that makes her so real. Joined by her daughter Joy in the second book, Certain Girls, you get two great books full of female heroines that you can cheer for! 

Good in Bed 

 

I will love myself, and my body, for what it can do- because it is strong enough to lift, to walk, to ride a bicycle up a hill, to embrace the people I love and hold them fully, and to nurture a new life. I will love myself because I am sturdy. Because I did not -will not- break.

Synopsis:

For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.

But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.

There is much to be said about reading about a character who is like you – that is to say, not the idealized woman. This is why, in some respects, romance novels and chick lit (ugh, hate that term) and other “made for girls” literature is so great – the women who tell their story aren’t perfect idealized caricatures, they’re plump, or middle aged, or angry or a million other things – and you know, just trying to get on with the life they want. There are degrees to this of course – some heroines are more idealized, others less, but they all have that kernel of imperfection that makes them awesome. 

Cannie Shapiro is that heroine at 99% capacity: she’s sarcastic to a fault, impetuous, stuck in a dead end job she kinda hates and just broke up with a man she didn’t really want to be with, but is now upset at herself for doing, oh and she’s fat. Not “pleasantly plump” or “a little around the middle” – she’s fat. And she mentions it often, usually unapologetically, as she nips down to get a chocolate bar at her mid afternoon break, or as she sits at the doctor’s office with other overweight women trading war stories of paternalistic attitudes of the people around them. 

She’s a delight to read – even as her life turns upside down, over and over, tumbling around from bad to worse to insane – actually, maybe especially when her life is chaotic, as it often is. There isn’t anything easy about her story (except her, just joking in that Cannie Shapiro way!) and it’s the type of book that swings from funny to tearful in a chapter, leaving you off balanced and scrabbling to figure out just what is happening. Usually I am not much for this, but it works in this case – it works because, I think, Cannie has a certain wit and delivery of line that makes it roll together. 

Not going to lie: I totally balled my eyes out during the last quarter of the book or so. But … I totally laughed my eyes out the first 3/4 of it – even through the more awkward bits. 

It’s the type of book that I would recommend to any woman, anywhere. I think all women can relate to it, especially in that great late 20s era I am currently in. Go forth – read and cry! 

Certain Girls 

This is motherhood for you,” said my own mother. “Going through life with your heart outside your body

Synopsis

Cannie’s back.  After her debut novel – a fictionalized (and highly sexualized) version of her life – became an overnight bestseller, she dropped out of the public eye and turned to writing science fiction under a pseudonym. She’s happily married to the tall, charming diet doctor Peter Krushelevansky and has settled into a life that she finds wonderfully predictable – knitting in the front row of her daughter Joy’s drama rehearsals, volunteering at the library, and taking over-forty yoga classes with her best friend Samantha.

As preparations for Joy’s bat mitzvah begin, everything seems right in Cannie’s world. Then Joy discovers the novel Cannie wrote years before and suddenly finds herself faced with what she thinks is the truth about her own conception – the story her mother hid from her all her life. When Peter surprises his wife by saying he wants to have a baby, the family is forced to reconsider its history, its future, and what it means to be truly happy.

So we continue Cannie’s story, but alternate chapters with her daughter Joy. First off, I need to get this off my chest: At first, I kind of hated Joy. Like, honestly, dreaded her chapters. She was annoying and really cruel sometimes and I just couldn’t get over her. As the story wore on, I started to like her, but hell, those first few chapters (okay, until about halfway through the book) I really disliked her. I was all like “Cannie, girl – send that girl to boarding school.”. 

The story itself is as chaotic as the first book – it’s up and down, and you go from tears of happiness to sobs of delirium even as your scream at the book “What the hell? How could you do that to me!? How!?” (no seriously, I totally did). I am not sure if I – childless and in the aforementioned late 20s era of doom and gloom – fully appreciated everything in this book – Cannie as a character has grown up a lot, and there’s more maturity to her, even with the trademark wit and sarcasm. There’s a lot more background too – aided, I think, by having the story told in two perspectives, by two women who are very close. It’s a heartbreaking, funny read. 

I recommend this one after the first – digest Good in Bed, then eventually move on to Certain Girls. They’re remarkably feminist and great reads, and I think any woman would benefit from them. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s