Book- Ten Girls to Watch
Author- Charity Shumway
Publisher- Simon and Schuster
Published- July 31, 2012
Summary-Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a writing career that’s gotten about as far as penning an online lawn care advice column, and a small hometown in Oregon that’s her last recourse if she can’t make next month’s rent.
So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. Not only is she being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women, but she’s also sharing office space with “Secret Agent Romance,” Charm’s resident dating columnist, and he just happens to be giving her butterflies.
As Dawn gets to know the life stories of these former winners, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. And even more importantly, she’ll find that though those who have gone before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to find our own way.
Review- This book left me all smiles when I was done. You know that moment when you finish a book and you think, but I don’t want it to end! I want to know more about what happens to her! That’s how I felt.
Let’s begin with Dawn West; recent college graduate- and recent being roughly eight months post diploma. She’s from the Midwest but lives in a not so trendy apartment in Brooklyn. I know nothing about New York living other than what Sex and the City taught me. And let’s be honest, that kind of New York life doesn’t happen for the every day girl from Oregon.
She lives with a roommate, Sylvia, who is just that. A roommate found on Craigslist. The apartment has sloping floors, which according to Dawn, only adds to its eccentric charm.
After the breakup with her former college boyfriend, Robert- the pretzel heir- Dawn is invited to his families annual summer party in the Hamptons. Along with his current girlfriend Lily.
Now typically you’d think, oh no. Who would show up to a party with the ex and his new flame? Apparently Dawn. It’s honestly not as bad as one might think. It’s here at this party that things actually start to maybe turn around for Dawn in the employment department. Seems even magazine editors read the weekly column on lawn care. And so, through Lily, the replacement girlfriend you can’t not hate because she’s so genuine, Dawn finds herself a job with Charm Magazine. At first glance, the “charm” of the job isn’t her office. Which consists of a cage of sorts in the basement of the archives. The charm is the actual job. Dawn is in charge of locating all the past winners of the magazine’s yearly, Ten Girls to Watch issue. The magazine is celebrating fifty years and with that, Dawn has to locate fifty women, and eventually bring them all together for a celebration honoring the magazines big achievement.
While trying to impress Regina, the editor in chief whom she met at Robert’s party, she also tries to impress her direct boss, ZADI- and yes, the woman capitalizes her whole name. Through all of this, Dawn tracks down woman after woman. Luckily for her, one of the past winners happened to be an old college professor turned mentor. But the woman all range from doctors, lawyers, political figures, musical prodigies, and website creators.
What I loved most about this story was the heartwarming tales each woman told Dawn. And more so than the tales, but the down to Earth nature of each woman. The reflections of what it was like to be the winner, from whatever decade they hailed from, but each winner had some sort of valuable advice to pass on to Dawn.
At some point, during her phone interviews, Dawn questions the circumstances. Each woman is so gracious and friendly speaking to her that Dawn has to wonder, if it wasn’t for the fact that she was calling on behalf of Charm Magazine, would these woman still be as open to her if she had called as Dawn West, girl from Oregon? I myself questioned this at one point also.
But then there is more. Dawn goes through ups and downs of life in general throughout the story. Secret Agent Romance? A building fire? A flaky roommate? By the end of the story, I was rooting so hard for Dawn and for good things to come her way. And you know what? The advice and guidance from all fifty woman, some of whom Dawn considers real friends by the end of the book, make her truly see that passing on law school and doing what she loves might have been the best decision she ever made. And that with each revolving door, new opportunities await.