*I received a free copy of Mrs. Everything from Atria Books via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Atria Books on 11 June 2019
Genres: Adult, Women's Fiction
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?
Mrs. Everything spans over several decades, following Bethie and Jo, two sisters born after the 2nd world war, living their childhood in Detroit.
With Mrs. Everything – Weiner managed to weave a story in which two sisters growing up in the fifties have to deal with a lot of different things… being Jewish in a place where they don’t always feel like they belong is one of them. Jo also had to deal with knowing she liked girls – and that that was ‘unnatural’. Bettie only wanted to stay beautiful and thin when she was a teen, because she wanted to be a star.
Of course, their dreams didn’t come true. As in real life – life happened, and their father died when they were still quite young. Little by, little, life shaped them into something neither of them would have ever imagined.
I really enjoyed following the two sisters through the trials and tribulations. Mrs. Everything grabbed me from the beginning, making me enjoy Jo and Bethie, even when I didn’t particularly like them. And I felt like their fights are so similar to many other women’s fights – both in the past, and today.
I think every woman (and many men!) I know would enjoy Mrs. Everything, because the struggles Jo and Bethie had to go through felt familiar, even if I haven’t necessarily had the same kinds in my own life. Fighting for what is right, even if it might benefit other people than myself is something that is important to me. And so, both Jo and Bethie made me cheer for them, fighting for the rights of people who were different from them.
If you’re looking for women’s fiction / family drama, you should definitely pick up Mrs. Everything – and please let me know what you think of it once you do!
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