Monday, February 25, 2013

TWENTIES GIRL


Review of TWENTIES GIRL by SOPHIE KINSELLA

Sophie Kinsella introduced me to chick lit and, after reading many other authors in the genre, she's still my favorite. For those unfamiliar with the term, let me preface my review with a summary of chick lit. The books are light, entertainment reading and very formulaic. The story always follows a relatively average woman in her twenties who has a specific or multiple problems with all of the following: her family, her friends, her work, and her love life, and sometimes something else, just in case that's not enough! In a relatable, humorous voice we follow the protagonist as everything only becomes worse and worse. One trait common in chick lit: things must get worse before they get better and I never predict rock bottom; the authors always show me there's a longer fall than I imagined. Of course, then everything gets very, very better. The story's topped off with a happily ever after ending: family and friend problems resolved, character realizes and finds what she wants from work, and she always ends up with a gorgeous, wealthy, kind man. In short, chick lit might be the modern version of happily ever after type fairy tales.

I've read most of Kinsella's books and didn't expect TWENTIES GIRL's speculative fiction element: a ghost. Of course, Kinsella focuses on Lara, our heroine, more than the fantasy premise and she definitely pulls off this twist to chick lit. After Lara attends the funeral of a great aunt she never met who died at age 105, she finds herself stalked by the great aunt's rather bossy ghost.

Lara is definitely a little self-involved and a lot of crazy/clingy, but I found her easy to root on nonetheless. Of course, she does grow over the course of the book and how a characters changes counts more for me than how they start off. For the critical minded, chick lit is an easy genre to nitpick. If you haven't read any chick lit books, you can probably still find fault with the genre simply from my bottled formula description above. However, Kinsella always injects said formula with real heart. For one example, the contrast between Lara and Sadie (the ghost), both somewhat selfish and quick to tell the other off, points out how easy it is to recognize others' flaws and how hard to see your own.

The ending in particular is superb. Stellar, surprising, sentimental, sweet, satisfying. I enjoyed the entire book, but the ending elevated the whole story and reminded me why Kinsella's my favorite chick lit author.

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