Dawn West’s post-college life isn’t going exactly as planned. She wants to be a writer, but so far, her only lucrative writing gig is answering questions about fertilizer and grass seed in an online lawn care column. Her ex-boyfriend is now dating the perfect girl – a girl who not only has everything, but is convinced that she and Dawn are instant friends. She can barely afford the run-down Brooklyn apartment she shares with her crazy roommate, and now the roommate is leaving the city and leaving Dawn to pay her half of the rent.
So when she gets the opportunity to work on the 50th anniversary issue of Charmed magazine’s Ten Girls to Watch contest, she jumps at the steady paycheck and chance to beef up her resume. She’s tasked with finding out as much information about the past winners as possible – five hundred women from all over the country, and from all walks of life, who were all considered the best and brightest of their time.
My coworker suggested Ten Girls to me a few months ago, and I am so glad she did. I loved the story of Dawn trying to navigate those first few post-college years and finding inspiration in the stories and words of the women she encounters. Author Charity Shumway based the novel on her own experience tracking down the fifty winners of Glamour‘s Top 10 College Women and how that one job influenced her. Yes, there’s a romance in there, but the story is much more about Dawn’s struggles as a young adult and finding her way through an overwhelming new world by learning from the incredible winners of the Ten Girls to Watch contest. In the world of chick lit, it’s actually a pretty rare concept for a heroine, and one I really enjoyed and related to. I also loved the look back at the criteria for the selection of winners and how that changed over the years, how the “best dressed” girls of the ’60s transformed into the brilliant minds of the ’70s and beyond – and how even those original girls that were just chosen for their fashion sense had a lot more than a pretty smile and fancy dress to offer. I also loved how each chapter featured a profile of a different winner, bringing them even more to life.
Ten Girls to Watch is a great, fun, easy ready, but still packs a little more substance than the average twenty-something novel. Check it out.