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Book Review: Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

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I love all things Jennifer Weiner. I am Jewish, in my early 40s, lived much of my adult life in Philadelphia and its suburbs, write for part of my living, and have had my share of failed and often comical relationships – culminating in my current 15 year marriage to a man who I cannot imagine being without. Weiner's first novel, Good In Bed, and this latest one, Certain Girls, are written from the voice of Philadelphia Jewish girl, writer, mother, and wife Cannie Shapiro.

Since we left her, Cannie has published a best-selling fictionalized sexually-charged version of her life (which she tries to hide, taking the plebian job of ghost writing science fiction novels at a steady salary), marries a diet doctor Peter Krushelevansky, and settles down to raise her daughter Joy.  As Joy nears her bat mitzvah she discovers her mother's novel, cannot separate fact from fiction, and goes on her personal mission to discover her identity while at the same time Peter decides he wants to have another baby with the uterus-free Cannie.

Throw in Joy's insane but brilliant Aunt Elle, her lesbian grandmother, estranged grandfather, her father Bruce and his new wife and family, and all of the angst of being 13 and you get the picture.  Certain Girls manages to weave around this complexity without losing the reader or skipping anything we need to know.

Weiner writes this novel from two distinct perspectives in two unique voices, Cannie and Joy.  As the stories unfold we experience the drama from both the perspective of mother and daughter, and this adds extra layers of depth to what could be just a basic chick-lit comedy drama.  

This is a book about life and living.  Parts are laugh out loud hysterically funny and parts will just make you cry.  And the end is a shocker; I did not see it coming and neither will you.  But again, that's life, isn't it?  

 

 

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