Cannie Shapiro, who won readers' hearts in Jennifer
Weiner’s first novel GOOD IN BED, returns in the page-turning
sequel CERTAIN GIRLS.
Cannie is settled into her long and happy marriage with her diet
doctor husband, Peter Krushelevansky. She spends her days churning
out science fiction books, written under a pen name. Her debut, a
highly fictionalized and incredibly sexy bestseller based on her
own life, was way too much of a sensation when it was published
many years ago; she is not going through that kind of a media buzz
again. Meanwhile, she knits, gardens and plans meals, but mostly
her focus is on being the best mother she can possibly be to her
beloved 12-year-old, Joy. Joy's biological father is Bruce Guberman
(who once wrote a piece for a national women's magazine titled
"Loving a Larger Woman," about his and Cannie's love life). Bruce
is in Joy's life, but her true father is the warm and wonderful
Cannie's life is shaken a bit as Joy's grades falter. Joy
contributes her story as well, and we learn that the seventh-grader
is self-conscious about the hearing aids she requires, frequently
not wearing them at school. Peter rocks Cannie's world further when
he announces that, in spite of Cannie's hysterectomy after Joy's
birth, he believes they should find a surrogate mother and have a
baby of their own.
Meanwhile, Joy finds herself unaccountably popular at school.
Normally, she hangs with her friends, twins Tamsin and Todd. But
the most popular girl at school, Amber Gross, suddenly asks Joy to
sit with her and her friends at lunchtime. Despite Tamsin's
displeasure, she can't resist the siren call to join Amber's clique
in the cafeteria, where she finds herself sitting right next to her
crush, Duncan Brodkey. Joy is ecstatic --- until she learns that
her popularity is sparked by her mother's friendship with a famous
Joy’s new friends also discuss BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY, which her
mother wrote years ago. Cannie has protected Joy from the book,
forbidding her to read it. Now Joy feels compelled to disobey
Cannie’s order, and her world is turned upside down. It is,
as Duncan says, "hot stuff," which makes Joy uncomfortable. But she
also discovers that when the book’s heroine unhappily finds
herself pregnant, the baby's father leaves. All of a sudden, Joy
wonders about the truth behind the book. Didn't Cannie want
CERTAIN GIRLS is an absorbing read and the perfect escape story.
While rediscovering Cannie feels like catching up with an old
warm-hearted, witty best friend, readers will also relate to Joy's
preteen angst as she struggles to find her place in the world.
Jennifer Weiner leaves us with a tantalizing taste of Cannie and
Joy's future. Dare we hope for another sequel?
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 7, 2011