Certain Girls (Jennifer Weiner)

Ahhhh.....how glorious and free it is to read solely for entertainment! To me, it is like taking deep, cleansing breaths. There are few things more relaxing than reading just for fun. I've been so desperate for a recreational read that I bought Certain Girls completely on impulse in a moment of weakness. Shame on me for not going to the library! ;)

I liked many things about this book. Cannie (Candace) Shapiro Kreshevelansky is a wife, mother, and writer, whose "one great novel" was written in her anger over being abandoned by her own father and by the father of her child. Hence, ten years later there are many things about that book that she regrets, and has determined to shield her daughter from both the contents and the media backlash of it all. Unfortunately, her daughter (Joy) has determined to both read the book and sort through what is real and what is fiction in the story, which causes just a smidge of mother-daughter tension. Additionally, Cannie and her husband Peter (an overwhelmingly happy and in-love couple) are also seeking to have another baby through surrogacy, which is an element that weaves in and out of the plot and eventually ties it all together in the end. All the characters are Orthodox Jews, and a central focus of most of the book is Joy's bat mitzvah.

I liked that there was huge growth in every single character in the book, and the theme that there are many ways to make a family. I enjoyed the mother-daughter relationship (good, bad, and ugly), and the tale of planning Joy's bat mitzvah. I learned quite a bit about modern Jewish culture, and about surrogacy. I found it rewarding to watch Joy grow from a bratty little preteen to a young woman to be proud of. I loved Cannie's personality, with her quick wit, quicker tongue, and her absolute devotion to her child.

I did have some difficulty with the somewhat frequent uses of unnecessary profanity, which I've noticed is a trait of Weiner's main characters. What was perplexing about Cannie was that it wasn't even fitting with her character. Perhaps it was a tool to demonstrate that Cannie is multifaceted...I don't know.
All in all, nice read! I'm happy to move on.