Jennifer Weiner is arguably the queen of American chick-yet. Good in Bed, her first novel, was almost an instant best seller and is a perennial favorite here at EVPL (i.e. it almost always has a waiting list). Her novels are eagerly anticipated by her Gen-X followers, myself included, and her most recent, Certain Girls, is no exception. I've been waiting for this book for three years. Seriously, I have.
To say that Certain Girls is a disappointment may be a little harsh. That being said, it is certainly not what I expected from the plucky, plus-sized heroine of Good in Bed. Gone is the Cannie Shapiro of yore - the woman who plodded through the remainer of her twenties finding disappointment and pain at virtually every angle - only to finish them with an unexpected upswing and blessing - her daughter, Joy, a movie-star friend, and burgeoning career as a "serious" writer. Flash forward - Joy is twelve as Certain Girls begins, and Cannie has become a neurotic clone of c. 1984 Tipper Gore...ashamed of who she used to be (a best-selling author!) and refusing to allow her daughter to do things like use a Grease theme for her bat mitzvah - because it promotes smoking and promiscuity? OK - I'm not Jewish, but even MY mom, born in the pre-war Midwest and coming of age in the 50s - wouldn't have been that careful about party themes - and for years I was not allowed to wear jeans in front of my grandparents.
I'm not finished with Certain Girls yet, so it may surprise me, and I may end up loving it as much as I did its predecessor. But so far, I get the feeling that Jennifer Weiner, like her heroine Cannie Shapiro, was pressured into a follow-up of her successful first novel - and it shows. Her characters so far resemble nothing of their former incarnations. I'm just not feeling the love for Cannie yet. I'll be sure to report back, though.