Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Published June 11, 2019 by Atria Books
Goodreads Summary: From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.
Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Review: I had never read a book by Jennifer Weiner before this but knew that she is a pretty popular author so I was pretty excited that the publisher asked me to review this one. The characters of Jo and Bethie felt like they were written in a way to represent all women. Each of them face individual struggles that break your heart as you read them. Jo isn’t your typical teenage girl. She has a secret that she is terrified of it getting out. But she also wants to be able to live the life she wants without people treating her differently. Bethie becomes a victim of abuse from a family member who should have been there to protect her. As both sisters grow up and experience various hardships, their biggest challenge is realizing who they are and figuring out what they want out of life. Are they going to settle for what’s easy or are they going to work for the life they want? Reading their journey, both individually and together as sisters, was really moving. One thing about this book that really impressed me was the whole scope of the book. The author managed to fit in so many issues including race, religion, and sexual assault. The characters participate in everything from the civil rights movement as Jo actively participates in weekly demonstrations for equality, all the way up to the current #metoo movement. The book spans several decades so there were times when it seemed to drag on a little too long but overall I really enjoyed this book. This story will stick with me for awhile.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.