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Certain Girls: A Novel Hardcover – April 8, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Following the story collection The Guy Not Taken, Weiner turns in a hilarious sequel to her 2001 bestselling first novel, Good in Bed, revisiting the memorable and feisty Candace Cannie Shapiro. Flashing forward 13 years, the novel follows Cannie as she navigates the adolescent rebellion of her about-to-be bat mitzvahed daughter, Joy, and juggles her writing career; her relationship with her physician husband, Peter Krushelevansky; her ongoing weight struggles; and the occasional impasse with Joy's biological father, Bruce Guberman. Joy, whose premature birth resulted in her wearing hearing aids, has her own amusing take on her mother's overinvolvement in her life as the novel, with some contrivance, alternates perspectives. As her bat mitzvah approaches, Joy tries to make contact with her long absent maternal grandfather and seeks more time with Bruce. In addition, unbeknownst to Joy, Peter has expressed a desire to have a baby with Cannie, which means looking for a surrogate mother. Throughout, Weiner offers her signature snappy observations: (good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card) and spot-on insights into human nature, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. She expends some energy getting readers up to speed on Good, but readers already involved with Cannie will enjoy this, despite Joy's equally strong voice. (Apr.)
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"Hilarious. Weiner offer her signature snappy observations and spot-on insights into human nature." -- Publishers Weekly
"Heartfelt and funny...A touching examination of both the comic and tragic moments that mark the mother-daughter relationship." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Clear your calendar and prepare to read: Cannie Shapiro is back! Weiner is a talented writer who consistently delivers the goods. Readers will laugh and cry..." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"Weiner displays her signature wry voice and sap-free knack for capturing heartfelt moments; an unexpected plot twist gives her story emotional heft. Fans should find Girls a worthy successor." -- People
"Filled with family tumult (lesbian mother, rebellious teenage daughter, nutjob sister), career uncertainty, heart wrenching plot twists, and plenty of Weiner's classic sass, Certain Girls is like literary cotton candy -- it's light, fun and sweet, yet sticks with you long after it's gone. Label it a beach season must." -- Gotham
"Weiner's follow-up to Good in Bed is, in a word, fantastic. You'll laugh, you'll cringe, you'll cry as you follow Cannie and her now nearly teenage daughter, Joy. Told through alternating first-person narratives, Weiner's tale gives mothers and daughters alike a treat to devour." -- Romantic Times
"Weiner is a talented and accomplished novelist, with real stylistic flair, excellent and sometimes laugh-out loud wit, and good insight into her characters...Cannie has retained her wit and her sharp takes on the world she lives in, but she has evolved. Weiner's voice is smart and edgy, and her male characters are sharply drawn. She writes about issues, such as the dynamics of family life, that are of interest to all humans." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"In this smart-mouthed sequel to Good in Bed (a chick-lit classic), heroine Cannie is older but thinner, and in a terrible tussle with her soon-to-be-bat mitzvahed daughter." -- Good Housekeeping
"Jennifer Weiner's new book, Certain Girls, is a sequel to her huge best-seller, Good in Bed. For those of us who loved Cannie Shapiro, it's a chance to see her years later, married, a mother and coping with a new set of challenges." -- Cape Cod Times
"A daughter's journey through teen angst to realizations about family, acceptance, love, and the nature of truth." -- Elle magazine's "Elle's Letters" Readers' Prize April Winner --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I was so excited to find out what the funny, flirty and fearless Cannie Shapiro had been up to since having her baby and finding love...boy was I disappointed. First of all, this series went from "Bridesmaids" to "This is 40," but I was still willing to go with it, you know? People evolve. What I also did not like was the fact that it was written from both Cannie's point of view and that of her 13-year-old daughter's. If I wanted to read a book from a child's perspective I would've read a book from a tween series, like twilight. Lastly...those who don't want this book to be spoiled for them stop here...they kill her husband right before their new baby is born?! That's just cruel. Honestly, life is hard enough, I read these books during vacation to enjoy something light-hearted and upbeat, not to fight back tears in an airport while I ponder the meaning of life (joking...sort of).
"Certain Girls" takes place more than a decade after "Good in Bed." Cannie and Peter are now married and raising Cannie's daughter, Joy, who is now 13 years old. Cannie and Joy alternate chapters as narrators, and they have the kind of relationship that's pretty typical between teenage girls and their mothers. Joy thinks that her mom is an overprotective pain in the butt, and Cannie worries constantly about her daughter, especially when she notices changes in Joy's behavior. Meanwhile, Cannie struggles with the notion that her husband wants to have another baby with the help of a surrogate, and Joy eventally breaks down and reads the popular book her mother wrote 10 years ago. "Big Girls Don't Cry" is a sensationalized version of the events that led up to Joy's birth, and after reading it, Joy is so traumatized that she begins to question every aspect of her life. Eventually Joy embarks on a quest to discover the truth about her mother and herself.
At first I wasn't sure what to make of "Certain Girls." I enjoyed the first few chapters, but everything about the novel seemed so predictable and obvious. However, Weiner is a pretty fantastic storyteller, and despite the fact that I had most of the story figured out right away, I was completely drawn in by the book's characters and the emotions that they experienced, which are all unbelievably honest and relatable. As I continued reading, I thought that "Certain Girls" may end up being Weiner's best book to date...until I got to page 344!
The last 40 pages of this book SUCK! The events that unfold are so depressing and completely unnecessary. I think Weiner was trying to recreate the exact same chain of events depicted at the end of "Good in Bed," when baby Joy arrives prematurely and Cannie is unsure if her daughter will survive. I was so disappointed with the way Weiner regurgitated all those emotions at the end of this book, which was so stupid! I'm telling you, the ending of this book is what prevented me from giving "Certain Girls" a five-star rating. To be perfectly honest, a four-star rating is probably too generous of me.
I'm sure many fans of "Good in Bed" will be eager to dive into this much-anticipated sequel, and for the most part, "Certain Girls" is a very enjoyable read. However, if you want to get the most out of this book, take my advice and stop reading after Chapter 36. Trust me!
Now with Certain Girls, more than a dozen years have passed since the events in Good In Bed. Cannie Shapiro is happily married to Dr. Peter K, and the very proud mother of her daughter, Joy. After her novel -- a thinly disguised memoir of her life -- turned into a runaway best-seller, Cannie has settled into a routine of being a mom and wife, and writing science fiction novels for teenagers under a pseudonym. Everything is going good, and that?s when the problems start.
Joy, the darling of her parents, is hovering on the brink of puberty, and worse still, her bat mitzvah the dreaded rite of passage in every Jewish girl's life when she makes that transition between being a child and an adult at the age of thirteen. But she has other things to worry about - such as not being one of the 'popular girls' such as Amber, the perfect girl at her school. She?s also at that stage where her parents embarrass her mightily, especially her mother. Toss in the fact that she also hates wearing her hearing aids, and her grades are slipping, and Joy is heading for trouble.
Especially when her Aunt Lucy - now calling herself Elle - comes to visit, intending to find Joy the perfect dress, Joy starts finding herself in a conflicting time. Now that suddenly she's being noticed by Amber and her crowd, she's losing her best friends, the twins Todd and Tamsin, and she is also reading her mother's best selling novel on the sly. Unfortunately for Cannie, Joy takes the events in the story entirely wrong, and things are starting to spiral out of control.
If all of this isn't enough, Weiner throws in other plot conflicts, such as Peter and Cannie deciding to hire a surrogate mother to have another child (those who have read Good in Bed will understand why); Bruce, Joy's no-good-nik father is back; and there are a host of other problems, including the current overindulgence in party throwing as each parent tries to outdo the rest for the bar and bat mitzvah events.
Finally, Weiner throws in one last twist that had me howling and throwing the book at the wall. Seriously. It was one of the meanest tricks to lay on a reader, and it left the rest of the story a severe disappointment for me.
Too, there are several style problems with the story. One is the use of alternating first-person voices in each chapter, switching between Cannie and Joy. This tends to get very confusing, as it gets hard to follow as to just whom is speaking. While Weiner is able to keep the writing style frisky and full of verbal barbs and insights, her use of modern culture is going to make this a rather stale novel in about ten years or so.
Overall, I was left feeling that this was just so coincidence heavy, and contrived, that I could not really enjoy it. At best it is a three star read, and that?s rather unfortunate, as Weiner can certainly write much better than this drivel, and I have a hunch that she was being pushed into writing a sequel to her first novel. That's too bad, as with a bit more care, and some trimming could have saved this story and turned it into a truly interesting tale.
Unfortunately, this novel fits into that nebulous area that I reserve for books as a ?maybe? recommend. There is so much going on here, that when Weiner starts to wind up the story, the improbability factor starts to soar. It all comes down to how much you enjoy this author's work -- die-hard fans will read it anyway. But I would not recommend this for a first-time reader of Ms. Weiner's work.