Friday 5 July 2019

Review: Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner

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?

Review: Oh my goodness this book! This was such an epic read in so many ways. It covers so many issues that we face as women today, it covers such a great time period and it covers the thoughts and feelings and lives of two amazing characters. This book to me what it must have felt like when Little Women first came out and readers discovered it for the first time. 

I loved reading about these two sisters. They are amazing characters because they really are just like you and me and yet they have to face so many things, so many difficulties and so many choices in their lives and we get to go through all of that with them. Bethie is such a sweet girl and yet life is tough on her from such a young age and we can see how much she has been affected by that. She doesn't always make the best choices and yet I was wishing her all the best the entire way through the novel and I am pleased that she got the ending that she did. Jo is initially such a strong person and yet she too is hit by such devastation and has to witness her sister going through such a lot as well. She is such a complex character who seems so keen to do well by her entire family and that often means putting herself last. I really fell in love with Jo and cried more than once over what she had to go through. 

There is also a third character of sorts in the form of the sisters' mother, Sarah. She definitely has an important part to play in each step of these women's lives and yet she has also had a tough time. She isn't an easy person to like but boy does she love her daughters and she worked hard for them. She is conservative in her values but that provides a springboard for both of the journeys that the sisters go on and she is an important character in the novel. 

This book not only covers a wide expanse of time but also a wide range of geographical destinations and so it feels a little bit like we got to live and travel with these sisters no matter where they are. As a result you do feel a little worn out by the time you get the final stages of this book and yet it feels like a worthwhile journey and oh the things you will see along the way. 

This book has good LGTBQ+ representation and really shows what it could be like to question your sexuality in 1950s Detroit. It also has good representation of other diverse groups and the fact that the story lines for these marginalised groups change as the time and location changes shows how well thought out these characters and this plot is. This is intersectional feminism in novel form, I loved every minute of it and I know that you will too!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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