Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway

Struggling writer Dawn West is barely eking out a life in Manhattan, but when a chance encounter at a party leads to a job collecting data on Charm Magazine’s 50 year anniversary of their 10 Girls to Watch Feature, Dawn finds out that getting her foot in the door is only the first step to success.

I absolutely fell for Ten Girls to Watch–this is chick lit at its finest. Not only was it well-written, with humor and emotional precision, but it also spun the romances in a different way than I’m used to seeing.

What really impressed me was that author Charity Shumway came up with dozens of profiles of the 10 Girls to Watch spanning the years from 1957-2007. While I usually feel like made-up media jobs lack authenticity, this feature felt like something you’d actually see in a magazine, and the historical evolution and diversity represented were so intelligently and realistically done that I just couldn’t believe that it was fiction. And then even beyond that, Dawn is a genuinely funny, warm, kind person and her struggles aren’t rooted in contrivances like being clumsy or hating her (perfectly normal) body or things like that. The portrayal of her family dynamics had depth and pathos and originality and it just really, really worked.

And finally, the book reminded me of when I was 22 and just starting out in my first internship in NYC, at Premiere Magazine (back when it was a serious movie magazine), at once elated by the possibilities for my life and terrified of failure. I loved being young in NYC (and now I love being a mom here) and this book brought me back and made me a little wistful and thankful.

Many thanks to Washington Square Press for the review copy.

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