05.08.20

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Posted in Review at 9:37 pm by Amber

Title: Mrs. Everything
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Book Cover of Mrs. Everything

NEW YORK TIMES 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019 SELECTION
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
THE WASHINGTON POST’S 50 NOTABLE WORKS OF FICTION IN 2019
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING’S 50 BEST BOOKS OF 2019

An instant New York Times bestseller

“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.” —People
“Simply unputdownable.” —Good Housekeeping
“The perfect book club pick.” —SheReads

Named a Best Book of Summer by Entertainment WeeklyCosmopolitanWoman’s DayPopSugarHelloGiggles, and Refinery29

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

I received this book for review about a year ago when I was reading a burst of ebooks. During the pandemic I find myself once again turning to my trusty ebook reader for new content. These days I’ve been alternating between ebooks and print books to give my eyes a rest from screen time. Just like I try to alternate between a tv show and a movie.

I’d started this last year and it was easy to fall back into the rhythm of the writing and recall what had happened to the sisters since the beginning of the book.

The novel ends just before the 2016 US Presidential election. Knowing what’s happened since then this book made me wistful about the hope present during that time. I’m younger than Jo and Bethie but I recall the hope that a woman reaching the highest political office would be a tangible achievement that women would be believed when they said something horrible was done to them by a man, that women could finally have true autonomy over our bodies, and be treated with respect by all.

Weiner deftly transitions between the two stories. They orbit each other, like moons on different rotations around the planet known as their childhood, coming together on occasion to have shared experiences. I really enjoyed that each character was fleshed out and had her own story in addition to their shared story.