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Review: Brooklyn Girls

July 15, 2013

Title: Brooklyn Girls
Author: Gemma Burgess
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Format: eGalley

Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable, Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends—Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine—sharing a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of  their “semi-adult” lives. The first story belongs to sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to start SkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that’s without counting her roommates’ problems, too. Gemma Burgess has captured the confusion, hilarity and excitement of the post-graduate years against a backdrop of the pressures and chaos of New York City life, with heartfelt empathy, fast humor and sharp honesty.
A charming debut series about five twenty-something girls and the humor, heartbreak, and drama that bring them together—via Goodreads

I’ll be honest. I thought I would hate this.

But for the sake of trying things I think I’ll hate anyway (I’ve been doing this with food lately too. It turns out that brussels sprouts do not suck!), I stuck with this past the first couple chapters and realized that this book is actually fun.

The story of five recent college grads living in a luckily inherited brownstone near Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, (which, btw, is a very nice and expensive neighborhood these days.), Brooklyn Girls focuses on Pia, an Ivy League-educated party girl who is deemed “unemployable.” Now, that sentence annoys me because no one I’ve ever met from an Ivy would be considered unemployable. If you can slap one of those schools on your resume and network with the alumni in your area, you’re golden. But, let’s abandon that knowledge and for a moment believe that a Brown grad can’t get a job in NYC. That’s where Pia is.

She’s been cut off by her parents, can’t keep a job due to her temper and her willingness to put immodest photos on Facebook, so she does what any entrepreneurial minded early 20-something would do: borrows money from a loan shark who enjoys Smart Water and buys a nearly broken food truck. She starts selling healthy salads and desserts and basically becomes an overnight success. But there are many setbacks.

The major plotline is a bit predictable, but in the best way. It’s a rom-com that you know is going to be like every other, but that you watch anyway just in case the writer decides to change something up on you. In this case, Burgess doesn’t—but the main plot isn’t really why you read this book in the first place. More than a tale of a privileged girl’s fall from grace and her struggle to become independent, it’s a story of friendship, and that’s really where this book’s heart is.

The friendships between the five girls who share the brownstone are layered, nuanced, and realistic. Some of the relationships are strained or straining, sometimes seemingly beyond repair,  some of them are blossoming, while others are amazingly steadfast. Each of the girls has her own struggles, flaws, and successes, and the balance to how each is written and how she relates to the others is where the writing in this book is most impressive.

Overall, Brooklyn Girls is a light, fun read that’s perfect for the beach or vacation. The story ends in an almost annoyingly predictable way, but that’s not what the reader will walk away remembering anyway—it’s the friendships that will leave an impression on the reader and make him or her recommend this to others.

Brooklyn Girls
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