Monday, September 17, 2012

A Girl Like You

 By Maria Geraci
New York, Penguin Books, 2012
308 pages     Fiction

Maria Geraci calls herself the “author of fun, romantic women’s fiction,” and that is exactly what A Girl Like You is—fun, romantic women’s fiction.

Emma is a journalist for a regional magazine in Florida. Although she is a good journalist and very smart, she suffers from self-esteem issues because she is a size 14 rather than a size 2, and when you are in the market for a man, size seems to matter—especially when you are in your early 30s and everyone is pairing up. She has several loyal friends and co-workers, who support and encourage each other. The plot hinges on an interview that she is attempting to get with a famous, sexy NASCAR driver with whom she went to high school. As she works toward that goal, she tries on a romance with a cop in her hometown named Nick, pines for her boss, Ben, and ignores her co-worker Richard.

A good bit of the story and the humor hinges on the self-talk that Emma engages in as she attends to her work, her social life, and her relationship with her two mothers. By the way, the natural way in which the author weaves that state of affairs is delightful. A generation ago, being raised by two mothers would have caused a stir; now, we just read our way through it, and say, “…oh.” No exclamation point needed. One of my favorite lines of self-talk comes early in the book when Emma is at the bar on Friday night with her friends—and a few not-such-good friends. She says, “Slowly, I begin to fill with the sort of clarity that comes from being the alien in the room full of Others.” Throughout the book, Emma remains true to herself, which is a lovely quality in the protagonist. She had an experience in high school for which she continues to feel guilty, hence some of her feelings of inadequacy. This quality of self-truth is appealing.

I related to Emma on several levels. First, I was always a size 14 in a world of size 2s. At the same time, as a young woman, I had the kind of confidence that comes from knowing you are good at what you do and knowing that you are loveable. Underneath all her self-talk, Emma has that confidence and can-do attitude, too. Self-esteem is a chancy business. A person, particularly a woman, can feel competent on the one hand and totally inadequate on the other. It has only been with age that I have conquered some of those feelings of inadequacy. As I watch my granddaughters find their place in the world, I see the whole self-talk, confidence, inadequacy scenario playing out for another generation. 

What is also appealing is that Geraci, the author, doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, either. She knows exactly what kind of book she is delivering, and she delivers A Girl Like You extremely well. The loose ends get tied up, Emma finds a man, although not the man she was seeking, and she excels in her career. And to her great credit, Geraci doesn’t hit you over the head with issues. That is what makes it fun.

I received this book from the publicist. I recommend it. 

Maria Geraci’s website: She is the author of several other romance novels.

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