Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.
With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering, what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. These are the years when everyone else seems to have a plan, a great job, and an appropriate boyfriend, while Isabella has a blind date with a gay man, Mary has a crush on her boss, and Lauren has a goldfish named Willard. Through boozy family holidays and disastrous ski vacations, relationships lost to politics and relationships found in pet stores, Girls in White Dresses pulls us deep inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.
I had high expectations for this novel–I’ve heard great things about it, and it’s been recommended to me by a number of people. However, as I got through the first few pages, I was very underwhelmed. The language was very simple, and I didn’t need to look up any of the words I encountered, which I find disappointing because I felt as if I wasn’t learning or challenging myself by the read.
Even more so, the novel’s organization was very confusing for me. At first, I thought it was going to be small stories combined into one (which it is), but I never knew who was telling the story until a few paragraphs into the “chapter.” Instead of providing a number or character’s name at the beginning of each chapter, there was a phrase or short title. Eventually I just assumed the organization was chronological, but was once again confused because the author incorporated flashbacks (which my Fiction professor taught us not to do–it’s important to push the story forward).
The characters, at times, seemed almost “too much” of something–whether that be happy, sad, angry, organized, or ambitious. I couldn’t see any real person saying or acting like the girls in this story were. The dialogue was very awkward at times, and I had trouble believing in the authenticity of these characters.
Of course, there were parts of the novel that I enjoyed. I can’t remember the last time a book made me actually laugh out loud. I’m also very weird when it comes to humor because if I know they’re trying to make me laugh, I just don’t find it funny. I don’t think Close was ever trying to make her audience laugh, but instead wanting to portray an authentic girl humor among a group of friends.
I think the major reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would have is because I was expecting it to be more than what it actually was. I didn’t see it for what it was, so I couldn’t really appreciate it for what it was. Does that make sense? If you’re still intrigued, however, I would recommend reading it when you need something light or are looking for a quick, beach read.
Goodreads rating: 3.08/5
Dee’s rating: 3/5