I recently read “Brooklyn Girls” by Emma Burgess. I have to admit, after reading raving reviews, I can’t say I wholeheartedly loved the book. Critics said it was “Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable”; I don’t necessarily agree. There were parts to the book that had some merit, however after reading it, I was a bit disappointed. On a positive note, it was an easy read, it took me a Sunday afternoon to burn through the book and I did like the writer’s style however the overall story left a lot to be desired in my opinion. So without further ado and without giving too much of the story away, here’s my review.
Character Development of the Protagonist
The protagonist Pia, is essentially a 22 year old self absorbed party girl who fails to understand that actions have consequences. In the beginning of the book, I had to put it down and walk away a few times out of shear annoyance. I found Pia to be incredibly irritating and childish. Her world view is skewed and it makes it difficult to find empathy for her situation. I almost wanted to shout, “grow up”! Now, I understand that you cannot always identify with the character but her emotional depth and “growth” throughout the book feels forced and unnatural. She has a lot of demons to battle which I sympathized with. I was coming around to her mourning of the tragic loss of her first serious relationship until it was discovered to be a 2 year romance that took 4 years to get over. Now this is where I was super lost. Really?!!! 4 years and she still has a panic attack when she sees this dude and butchers a potential relationship. I understand that serious relationships are difficult to get over, but honestly I failed to sympathize with her. Not to mention her romance with Aidan, a 29 year old venture capitalist, is unrealistic at best. This dude is incredibly perceptive and too perfectly groomed for a 22 year old child who all of a sudden “grows up” in 6 weeks. I suppose it appeals to the inner romantic in people but again, it fails to be relatable in any sense of the term. Also the redeeming qualities and emotional/maturity hurdles Pia jumps through almost come off as obligatory and improbable. If I had to use one word for how I felt about the character it would be: exasperated. Also the other 4 girls had added some redeeming factors in the book at times, but still couldn’t quite tie it all together for me. That being said, this is a book series and the second book is out, though I’m not sure if I’ll give it a go at this point in time.
In the beginning, Pia has her annual meltdown party for the breakup of her serious boyfriend. Her antics get her fired from her first “big kid” job that her parents landed her. After finding out, her parents threaten to take her back to Zurich to keep an eye on her. She then lands a restaurant gig and through a variety of episodes manages to get into the food truck industry with funding coming from a loan shark. She finds insta-success with some help along the way along with chance encounters with a handsome British guy. During the story she manages to go through some self-destructive behavior, patching up then messing up, then patching up again the relationships with her roommates/friends. All of this is going on while dealing with paying off a loan shark, competing with another food truck, warding off her parents, and then magically finding herself in the end all within a 6 week timeframe. There are a lot of moving pieces to this book and the author does her best to tie them together but I just didn’t “get it”.
I think the author is a fantastic writer structurally. She strings sentences along together with ease in which you can easily run through the book fairly quickly. Her imagery is great and I could honestly see myself in the city right along with the characters. With that being said, that’s pretty much all that I was impressed with. Maybe my hopes/expectations were too high. When I first read reviews about the book, I thought to myself “finally, maybe someone out there has captured the plight of what 20somethings of this generation are going through”.Boy was I disappointed. Also I’d like to point out that all of these “broke girls” in the story had some monetary back up source of funding, which again many 20somethings of today cannot relate to. Also, not every 20something is a raving party girl; though the author attempts to portray the other roommates in that light. Seeing as I am 24, I thought I’d have an easier time relating to the characters as they are closer to my age. But honestly it kind of felt like a 1 note theme of “everyone has their own problems” but in the most cliche way. Don’t get me wrong it was a decent read, it just felt a little underdeveloped and lacking a sense of reality. I’ve heard great things about the author, so I’ll definitely give her some of her other books a shot, but the Brooklyn Girl Series just doesn’t do it for me. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your take on it! 🙂