Girls in White Dresses

Amazon Used
Whoo! I really didn't like Jennifer Close's Girls in White Dresses.  But first allow me to some background as to why. I am a "millennial." I have a college degree, I am on the less cutesy side of "twenty-something," I do have a good job (with insurance and everything) but I still can't afford to move out of my parents', and like many other millennial women, I still love YA novels (a good majority of YA readers are actual "young adults" as well as the teens the novels are intended for) There is some debate in the literary community if this is good or not. According to some, YA is garbage and everyone should be out there reading only highbrow stuff. You'll always hear that kind of humbug whenever a readership (and "writer-ship") is predominately female. (The way pulp-romance is more garbagey than pulp-scifi.)
Though unwisely, we YA readers have been bemoaning the lack of "twenty-something" characters/situations in YA literature. It's true that there is a desperate need for more diversity in the genre: more classes, races, genders, ages - more variety. While this is true, while I would love to see  teen girls reading more books with a black or Saudi Arabian Katniss, I'd also like to point out that this variety does exist in fiction if you widen your scope past YA as a genre. In my twenties, I've been looking for more literature that features smart girls in their twenties, faces with real life crisis' - I thought YA should be where I could find that, but I've been increasingly wrong. YA is, as much as anything, a brand of a sort. The Bell Jar, Franny & Zooey, The House on Coliseum Street - these are all books that publishers have (or might have) tried to rebrand for the YA reader, but they do not quiet fall under the YA umbrella. But these are the books that we might relate to more than the glossy, dramatic, and colorfully covered books our hands thoughtlessly reach for again and again. This book, for all it's worst faults, is still a good example of that relateability you might be fruitlessly searching for in YA, even if I thought it was a stinker.

The big issue I took with this book is that it reminded me too strongly of HBO's Girls - which is also important to the millennial woman, albeit a show I very much do not like. Maybe it's because I can't watch it at this stage in my life without cringing - either at the characters or at myself. Who can tell? (It's definitely the characters, by the way. The way they never learn their lessons and refuse to develop and grow - we may all have been there at one point, but I'd like to hope we've learned from it?) To cut to the chase, that's the same conclusion I drew on why I didn't like this book. It hits too close to home, as they say. This novel follows a group of close knit friends from the point when they graduate college until they enter their 30's, all in various stages of apartment hunting, terrible boyfriend meeting and dumping, career climbing, and home-making. This is possibly why it wasn't YA (though, Judy Blume is a thing that exists - need I say more?)
It was painful to sit back and watch these women make so many regrettable decisions, and though in the end they eventually leveled out and matured, there was plenty to grit my teeth over. I remarked at some point when the end was finally in sight, that if it ended with some decree that the power of friendship was the magic that made the world go 'round, I would use the book to kill someone. Though the ending was indeed heart-warming, it looks as though I'm going to have to find a good lawyer soon.

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