2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BLOG TOUR and Q&A for THESE GIRLS by Sarah Pekkanen

I was delighted to be invited to participate in the Blog Tour for Sarah Pekkanen's newest book - These Girls. So, a great big thank you goes out to Simon & Schuster Canada and the author for graciously participating in the Q&A.

Please visit these websites for more info:

Sarah’s website: http://www.sarahpekkanen.com/
These Girls page on S&S.ca: http://books.simonandschuster.ca/These-Girls/Sarah-Pekkanen/9781451612547

If you would like more information, please visit this author link: http://www.sarahpekkanen.com/

TITLE:              These Girls 

AUTHOR:        Sarah Pekkanen

GENRE:           Contemporary Fiction

RATING:          4 Stars

In full disclosure mode, I have to admit that the only ‘women’s fiction’ I usually read is chick lit.  Having said this, however, I do have a few exceptions and Sarah Pekannen is one of them.

I loved the Opposite of Me and was excited to read These Girls.  The first thing that I noticed, when I received my copy,  was the cover.  I wasn’t sure what to think about it because I felt it did not really give any hints as to the storyline (sorry, but I am a cover person and covers DO matter to me).  Once I finished the book, the cover did make a lot more sense to me though!

As for the storyline itself – where to start?  I loved all 3 main characters, mainly because they were all flawed.  I cannot stand novels where the main character is perfect, with a perfect family and a perfect life – so not realistic.  While these 3 women were all very different, the author somehow managed to weave their personalities and lives together so nicely, that you instantly felt their deep connection to each other – despite their differences.

This is what I believe is Pekannen’s biggest strength.  Her ability to take random characters and create a tapestry of feelings, emotions and thoughts that linked them together beautifully.

Of course, the character I identified with the most was Renée, who struggles with weight and body issues and will do anything to get and feel beautiful and thin.  I loved that the author tackled this difficult subject, all the while doing it with dignity and sensitivity.  It was also interesting for me to read about Renée’s inner fears and thoughts and I found myself nodding in many instances, as well as experiencing feeling of frustration with her – maybe because I recognized myself too much?

This book is touching and delicate.  Yes, that is the word that comes to mind – ‘delicate’. It is a book about friendship, hope and life and it has been obviously created with love.

Questions for the author:

1)  I enjoyed your characters very much, but I have to admit that I felt a kinship with Renée.  The weight issues she lives through were very real and an important facet to explore.  Why did you choose this topic?

 I think it’s such an important topic for women – we’re constantly flooded with messages about our bodies. We see celebrities who’ve just given birth on the covers of magazines, back in their skinny jeans after three weeks. And what we don’t see is the army of help that celebrity has: a nanny to watch the baby while she works out with a personal trainer before sitting down to a delicious low-cal meal prepared by a personal chef. I don’t know about the rest of you, but after I had babies, I’d scarf down some leftover mac and cheese and call it lunch – and then hit up the Ben & Jerry’s a moment later because I was so tired from being awake all night and I needed a sugar hit to keep me going. I definitely wasn’t appearing on the cover of any magazines trumpeting the headline “How I Got My Body Back!”  For Renee, who is working in the world of glossy magazines, the pressure to look good – to conform to a certain body size – is intense, and she reacts in a desperate way. As she says, her body clings to calories as passionately as Kate Winslet clung to Leo DICaprio during the closing scenes of Titanic. She isn’t meant to be a size 4 because she’s naturally curvy, like Marilyn Monroe – but she sure does everything she can to reach that strange ideal, even at the cost of her own health. 

2)  Your exploration of friendship is extremely evident in this storyline.  Why is this such an important part of the story?

Female friendships are vitally important to me, and I wanted to explore their strength in a book. My first novel was about sisters, my second about a marriage, and it seemed natural to make my third, These Girls, center around friendship – because that’s also such an important relationship in women’s lives! And they’re very important to me personally. For Cate, Renee, and Abby, who all have complicated families and old secrets, female friendships are what heal and even save them. 

3)  It is interesting how these 3 women are very different, yet, get along so well, despite their differences.  Do you believe that ‘opposites attract and actually naturally find each other’?

That’s a great question! I do believe this can be very true, and I actually have evidence. I’m in the process of creating a video trailer for These Girls, based on interviews with real-life best friends, and it’s interesting to see how many of them describe themselves as opposites! Having one friend be the vivacious, outgoing one and the other be quieter and more introspective can really help balance a friendship, it seems. 

4)  What inspired you to create these 3 women?

 I wanted my characters to be very different, but – not to sound too mystical about it – the characters really created themselves after I drew in their rough outlines. It’s only when I get the characters down on the page, and throw situations at them and see how they respond, and hear them talk to one another, that they become three-dimensional to me (and I hope to readers!) 

5)   Do you believe that friendship is as important and vital as family ties?

 I do! And in some cases, it can be more important. If a family is broken or damaged, and the relationships it contains are destructive, it’s vital for those family members to reach out and create friendships – to form another family, one that is safe and nurturing. 

6)  Do you believe that writing a novel about 3 male best friends would work as well?

 Nah, they’d just sit around and watch sports and scratch themselves so it wouldn’t be as interesting. I kid, I kid! Well, sort of. My life is filled with great men – I have two brothers, but no sisters, and three sons, but no daughters – and I adore them. But I think women tend to be more introspective and verbal about their relationships, and their relationships may have a more complicated texture than many male relationships. That’s not to say one is better than the other  - just a very general difference I’ve noticed. I think some of this is due to the way men are socialized, which is why I’m constantly talking to my sons, and trying to get them to open up about their feelings. I think a lot of women – and men – do this with their sons today, and it’s a terrific change from the message we used to give boys, which was more along the lines of “tough guys don’t cry.”

Thanks so much, and I’d love it if any readers would like to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @sarahpekkanen so we can continue chatting!

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Wonderful interview! I agree with you that Pekkanen is a master when it comes to writing characters and emotion. I can't wait to see the book trailer she's working on. I'll be reading the book soon!!

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