"Wickedly hilarious 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.The subject: changes in the lives of several women as they go through their late twenties/early thirties.
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 minuscule 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." (from Goodreads)
The setting: it varies, but New York is one of the main locations.
Shutter speed: fairly slow — it feels more like a collection of connected short stories than a full-fledged novel with a centralized plot — but it's quite readable, with an appealing, accessible tone that feels conversational and inviting. There's also some good humor here; Isabella's sense of humor in particular is snarky and dryly sarcastic just the way I like it.
What's in the background? Life lessons about growing up, maturing, and taking responsibility, but it doesn't come off preachy. It gives a good idea of the challenges that people in their twenties and early thirties face, in terms of relationships, careers, friendships, marriage, in-laws, what you want out of life and who you want to be with... It hits on a lot of the questions people start asking themselves once they get to that age, which gives it a very relatable element of uncertainty about the future.
Zoom in on: the characters. I had trouble visualizing them and keeping track of who was who. They all have pretty common names (e.g. Lauren, Mary, Abby, Shannon). Just generally I felt like the characters needed to be given more personality. We don't really get to know the guys much at all, and I think the relationships would have felt stronger if we had. Also, I wish we'd seen a greater variety of ethnicities represented (just judging by the names and limited descriptions, it seems like most of the characters are Caucasian).
Anything out of focus?
I think it should have been marketed as a collection of interrelated stories; it's a bit misleading to call it a novel when there isn't one all-encompassing plot, really. The chapters are loosely connected to each other by the characters involved, but they're more like anecdotes than the building blocks of a storyline.
Also, the chapters jump along in time, so unfortunately we miss parts of certain characters' stories (like how Mary met Ken, for instance, or how Lauren became a real estate agent).
Ready? Say... "Growing up!"
Click! 3.5 shooting stars. It didn't blow me away, but I think there's a story in here for just about anyone in this age range (or at least, any female reader!)
This book counts towards my goal for the New Adult reading challenge.