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Book Review: Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Book Review: Certain Girls

When I was first introduced to the smart, hilariously sassy Cannie Shapiro in Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed, I felt like I'd made a friend. She's clever, outspoken, fun and talented, though she also, like many of us, struggles with her weight and her feelings of self-worth. Thus, I was delighted to find out that we get a continuation of Cannie's story in Certain Girls — and this time there's another voice talking: Cannie's now-13-year-old daughter, Joy.

Joy, whose premature birth left her with hearing problems, has always known that her mother wrote a salacious, bestselling novel many years ago but never had much interest in reading it — until now. And what she reads horrifies her. She starts to question her mother's honesty, and goes in search of the truth about her family's history. Meanwhile, Cannie's husband Peter wants to find a surrogate so he and Cannie can have their own baby together. Not loving the idea, Cannie explores their options while also trying to plan a bat mitzvah for her surly teenage girl.

In a rare occurrence of the sequel surpassing the original, I enjoyed Certain Girls more than I liked Good in Bed. To find out why,


While I like the character of Cannie and the collection of hilarious characters that surround her in Good in Bed, that book is a whole lotta Cannie. It's also fanciful in ways that I couldn't quite swallow at times. But Certain Girls benefits from Joy's voice and her teenage perspective. At times it struck a chord so familiar I had to put down the book, recognizing as I did the painful experiences of puberty. It's also surprisingly fun to get a new, inside look at Cannie through her daughter's eyes. Certain Girls is also darker, in many ways, and though there's still a good amount of fantasy-world fun, there's also a hefty dose of real-world drama. Perhaps because of this, I became powerfully attached to this mother-daughter duo and had to do that thing where I lingered over the final few pages to try and make it last.

Bottom line: Certain Girls isn't literary perfection, but it is a funny, absorbing and emotional read.


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Cocoangel Cocoangel 8 years
Thanks Buzz. I just saw an online item in Variety about Jennifer Weiner writing for TV! ABC Studios is looking outside the usual Hollywood talent pool, inking a series development deal with chick lit queen Jennifer Weiner. Two-year, seven-figure pact calls for Weiner to create and exec produce original projects for the Disney studio, which is already home to femme-friendly fare such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy." It doesn't include rights to Weiner's existing properties. In part, that's because much of Weiner's body of work has already been snapped up by other studios. Universal is developing her novel "Little Earthquakes" as a feature, while DreamWorks is adapting her short story collection "The Guy Not Taken."
lindaloo lindaloo 8 years
I can't wait for this! I loved Good in Bed. And I liked In Her Shoes as a book but enjoyed the movie more.
jadenirvana jadenirvana 8 years
I think I loved Goodnight Nobody the most, but I'm a sucker for a good mystery, and hers was surprisingly twisty. Can't wait to read this. Right now I am reading Belong to Me, by Marisa De Los Santos, which is the sequel to the wonderful Love Walked In. They are also excellent.
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
cool! these books both sound like a lot of fun, especially getting into Spring/Summer seasons! Thanks so much for the recommendations, Buzz! I've requested both from my local library.
hadassah hadassah 8 years
I can't wait to read this - I devour Weiner's books as soon as they come out. I remember reading somewhere -- maybe in one of those book club discussion pages at the end of one of the books -- that Good in Bed wasn't likely to be optioned as a movie because America just can't identify with an overweight main character. That's pretty lame.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 8 years
I can't wait to read this book. I've loved this author's stuff since I discovered her in high school. She's fabulous, honest, and clever!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Thanks for the review, Buzz. I'll definitely check this one out.
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Cocoangel — I actually meant to include this in my review and then didn't: yes, you can definitely read Certain Girls without having read Good in Bed, since Weiner spends a good amount of energy providing backstory, much of which was in Good in Bed, though she also catches us up on what has happened between the end of Good in Bed and the beginning of Certain Girls. I really think Certain Girls could make for an excellent movie, and a highly marketable one, too. I think the mother-daughter stuff is good fodder and Cannie is just such a great, funny character. It's so easy to root for her!
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I've told this story a thousand times around here but they filmed "In Her Shoes" in my neighborhood. And when I say "in my neighborhood," I mean I couldn't park on my block for six weeks because the stars' trailers were parked there. The Jamaican restaurant that played a big part in the movie and book was a block from my place, and I watched Toni Collette and Mark Feuerstein film a scene across the street from me.
adw7984 adw7984 8 years
I can't wait to read this book. I will probably have to re-read Good In Bed because I read it a long time ago! Thank you for these book reviews, they are really helpful :)
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Jennifer Weiner's books are my go to books on tape for long car rides. I'm not so concerned with them being literary "perfection" if it's a book on tape, and listening to them is like having a girl friend in the car with me telling me some great story about her life or someone she knows.
Cocoangel Cocoangel 8 years
Haven't read Good In Bed but did love In Her Shoes. Not so much the movie. Do you think I can skip Good in Bed and still enjoy Certain Girls? Will I miss anything that might give me necessary background on Cannie & Joy?
gonedelirious gonedelirious 8 years
I have loved everything I have ready by Weiner. Also, I agree with you jessy, I loved in her shoes as a book, but I didn't like the movie that much.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I didn't like "Good in Bed" OR "In Her Shoes" that much. But my mother buys all of her books and lends them to me. They are okay beach reads. The one thing I do like about her books is how Philadelphia is such a main character in them. In both of the novels I read, I was like "I've been there... I've eaten there... That is two blocks from my apartment..."
hotstuff hotstuff 8 years
I've been really interested in reading this book!
jessy777 jessy777 8 years
I loved Certain Girls. I received an advanced copy from my work and finished it in almost one sitting. I agree, I think this one was even better than the first. I wish they would turn Good in Bed and Certain Girls into a movie. It sucks that they chose In Her Shoes instead, it was a great book, but I didn't enjoy the movie version.
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