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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close~★★★

Author: Jennifer Close
Title: Girls in White Dresses
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "Wickedly funny and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love---all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.
Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat miniscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she's on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he'll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won't fall for the sleazy bartender---a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep. 
With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering, what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. These are the years when everyone else seems to have a plan, a great job, and an appropriate boyfriend, while Isabella has a blind date with a gay man, Mary has a crush on her boss, and Lauren has a goldfish named Willard. Through boozy family holidays and disastrous ski vacations, relationships lost to politics and relationships found in pet stores, Girls in White Dresses pulls us deep inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life." 

Taryn's Review: While reading other reviews for this book, I saw a lot of complaints about the way Close set the book up via telling the story through the lives of different women. Some reviewers said there wasn't a climatic moment in the book. I believe Close wrote the book about the lostness, the weariness, and the frustrations of when life works out against the course you assumed your life would take. I don't think the aim was to have a climatic moment of, "And they fell in starry-eyed love!" or "She became partner at her firm!" The book focused on characters who were trying to forage paths in a world that tells them they are behind, and maybe even flawed, for their detours.

That said, I had issues with the characters in the book. At one point Isabella was set up on a blind date with a guy who she bemoans for being fat. Note that the author also said the guy was drunk for the duration of the date, yet the author chose to have Isabella wail over the fact that this guy was "fat" and "obese." I'm assuming I was supposed to have some sympathy for Isabella, but in real life I would have told Isabella to quit being such a jerk about the guy's weight. Secondly, the author also had one of the characters say in passing that something was "retarded." Personally, I hate when someone uses the word retarded as a synonym for the word stupid and I was appalled to see it in the book, especially since I'm assuming Close wanted me to relate to her characters. Ultimately, I didn't find the characters all that relatable and some of them were downright dis-likeable. And a weird irk was when one of the character's boyfriend campaigned for someone the author referred to as the Candidate. Say Obama! Why didn't she just say Obama? It was very clear that is who she was talking about. Strange.

The book was kind of Sex and the City-ish with whole us-against-them when it came to the single group versus the married group. Close really overdid the brides to make them as obnoxious as possible; I think married and single women alike would dislike some of the brides in this book. I think the book had a lot of promise and Close was on to something with her perspective of late-twenty-something singleness, but unfortunately the book had some flat and unappealing moments. Overall, the book was an easy read to pass the time, but nothing about it stood out as memorable. I don't believe Close is a poor writer by any means, but I don't think this storyline was the right one to demonstrate her talents.

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