Friday, July 19, 2013

My take on: Girls I Know

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to wake a person up. In Girls I Know by Douglas Trevor, 29-year-old Walt Steadman is used to routine. He gets up, puts his clothes on, takes the subway, buys a copy of the Boston Globe, and plants himself at a table in his favorite diner. He's more than just a customer of the Early Bird Cafe, he is a friend to the owners Natalie and John Bittles and a mentor to the waitress Flora. But a horrible act of violence will turn Walt's life upside down.

Walt is a man without a plan. The former Harvard graduate student abandoned his dissertation, instead he spends his days reading poetry and working a series of dead-end jobs. He's used to living in his own bubble. Ginger Newtown, a rich, spoiled and reckless 20-year-old Harvard undergrad, forces Walt out of his bubble. As a building superintendent, Walt is used to the tenants ignoring him. But Ginger doesn't ignore him. She's bold and outspoken. She isn't afraid of entering his space. She isn't afraid to ask him questions. Sometimes she lacks a filter. She doesn't always know how far is too far. Unlike Walt, Ginger has big plans for her life. She wants to write a book, called Girls I Know, about women of all ages, racial and social backgrounds about how they get through life. Walt knows Ginger has good in her heart, but thinks she's biting off more than she can chew with the book.

Slowly, Ginger is throwing Walt's life off track. He doesn't want to like her. She's everything Walt isn't. She's driven. She's young. She's ready to conquer the world. Ginger forces him to take a hard look at his own life. But he isn't quite sure what to do about it. But what was supposed to be a routine day at the Early Bird Cafe, changes Walt's life forever. A violent former employee of the cafe returns to exact revenge, shooting Natalie, John, and Flora to death. Miraculously, Walt survives the shooting. But he's left to ponder, what next? He's not the only one in limbo. Eleven-year-old Mercedes, the Bittles' daughter, has literally lost her voice and her identity. The world Mercedes knew is gone. Now, she has to live with her grandmother and attend a school where other kids make fun of her. Just like Walt, life just isn't the same for Mercedes. Both of them end up leaning on each other. They work together to find their voices again. They work together to find their purpose in life again.

I found myself feeling both sad and frustrated by Walt. I wanted him to get motivated. I wanted him to stop letting life pass him by. But after the shooting, he's scared and worried someone is after him. I wanted to like Ginger, but I didn't. She was cold and a bit snobbish. Mercedes is a character you can root for. Despite all of the bullying at school, she doesn't want to give them any power by reacting. Some moron took her parents away, but it was a situation she had no control over. But something she can control is her voice. She doesn't have to speak until she is ready. Overall, this was a very intellectual, but page-turning read.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from Book Savvy PR in exchange for an honest review.

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