Monday, September 09, 2019

Review: Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Title: Mrs. Everything
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: June 2019, Atria Books
Format: Hardcopy, 480 pages
Source: Personal copy

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

My thoughts: I have to admit, if it weren't for the Barnes and Noble book club selecting this as their book club pick I probably would not have read this. I do not have a good track record with Jennifer Weiner's books, so I passed on getting this book at BookExpo and did not even attempt to request this from the publisher. That being said, I did get a copy to read for book club and I'm glad I did because I did enjoy it.

This is a very different book from Jennifer Weiner's other books. It isn't some glib, chick-lit book, but rather a deep exploration of what it is to be a woman from the 1950s to now. This is a generational saga - the type of story I absolutely love - but one that covers so much ground. There are so many different layers to this book, so many aspects that beg to be discussed, but at the same time, I'm loathe to point it all out here. This is a book that you need to discover for yourself so as to not ruin anything.

This isn't a book to rush through, but rather one to take in and savor. It's one that will stay with you long after you finish that last page, the characters, the relationships, the themes. What I particularly love is the relationship between the sisters. Having two, I am always drawn to these types of books and I felt that in this book, it was pretty realistic. There were ups and downs between the two, there were times when there was a big wall between them, but they also had each other's backs when needed and were there for each other when it really mattered and that love for a sister, that bond is one of the strongest you will ever find.

I enjoyed this book and am glad I gave it a chance. It's definitely the type that will have you thinking about the roles you as a woman play in society as well as the relationships you have. Have you read it yet? If you did, what did you think? If not, do you plan on reading it?


1 comment

  1. Kristin,
    I'm glad that you enjoyed reading this book. I'll keep it in mind for the future, though my TBR stacks are already sky high. Wonderful review!


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