These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen examines the lives of three young women trying to make it in New York City. Each is troubled by some aspect of their past. Renee and Cate both work at Gloss magazine. Cate has just been made a features editor, but she lives in fear that a past indiscretion will catch up to her, even as she also worries about her newly divorced and increasingly lonely mother. Renee is struggling to win a promotion as a beauty editor though she feels as if she is too overweight for the position. Renee’s recent discovery of her father’s infidelity and the surprise of a sister she never knew also weighs heavily on her mind. When the girls’ roommate moves out unexpectedly, they scramble to find a replacement, and offer a room to Abby, the sister of a writer whom both Renee and Cate have a crush on.
Sarah Pekkanen writes in a savory and evocative style that allows for nothing less than complete immersion into These Girls. I was so taken with this group of women – their struggles for self-hood, their burgeoning companionship, their attempts to face their personal challenges were endearing. Pekkanen puts you right inside their lives and hearts, and their emotions feel like your own, or at least like those of a close friend. No matter whose perspective was being explored, I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next, and how they would resolve their dilemmas of weight pills, sexually aggressive bosses, inappropriate affairs, and inconvenient love. Pekkanen plays with the narrative by following Cate and Renee in real-time, but she breaks that pattern to follow the root of Abby’s heartache partially in flashbacks to Washington, DC, where she suddenly fled her position as a nanny. These Girls is a beautiful story of female friendship and I could have hung out with them for far longer than Pekkanen has allowed. Recommended.