Release date: June 11, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
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?
Sometimes a book hits me so hard in my feelings and I love it SO much that I struggle putting said feelings into words that can properly convey my true thoughts and emotions. This is one of those kind of books, I both want to share all the minute details and gush about different quotes and stories that touched a part of my soul, but I also want any future readers to experience this incredible journey all on their own. When I struggle like this, I’m aware that the book must be one that’s truly special for me, I don’t have a hard time discussing a book that was just a standard read for me, or even one that I really didn’t like, but when one is as powerful as this one was for me, I find myself grasping for the right words because it becomes vitally important for me to do the author and the story justice.
This is a multigenerational tale told in alternating points of view, it begins in the 1950s and follows a young Jo and Bethie and I’m such a sucker for stories about sisters, so I was already invested from the start. It spans the years through 2016 and is on the longer side, so this really allowed the author to do a deep dive into the characterization and man, did she do a phenomenal job developing these two women. They truly felt like family to me by the end, there is nothing hidden in terms of the lives of these two, you follow them through all the highs and lows of their lives, the happy and sad, the ugly and the beautiful and there is absolutely no holding back. This really bonded me to them and made them the type of characters that I’ll never forget.
If you’re in a book club and searching for your next read, consider it done because this book will provide a group (especially a group of women) with countless hours of discussion. Following Jo and Bethie’s lives shows the constant struggle women both faced in the past and still face today, whether that’s in their home life and the decisions we make to either have children or not, to work or stay at home, to follow our dreams or to do what is expected of us, it is a constant struggle and as women, we all second guess our choices daily. In broader terms (I don’t want to spoil a thing) it explores sexuality, religion, racism, sexism, and so many more vitally important topics. In a nutshell, Mrs. Everything is everything, and yes it is ambitious as the blurb states, but it’s incredibly well written and hands down, the authors best book yet. And I have read them all!
If you can’t tell yet, this is highly recommended by me, but especially to every woman. Whether you’re a mom, grandma, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend or none of those things I really thing everyone can relate to at least a piece of this one.
Mrs. Everything in three words: Powerful, Timely and Moving.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.