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Thoughts On “Girls in White Dresses” by Jennifer Close

By Laureneverafter @laureneverafter

Girls in White DressesGirls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Girls in White Dresses is a vignette of unprepared women recently graduated from college about to take the world on head first. The chapters are woven together by one common character – Isabella. Isabella is vivacious and sarcastic. She sputters through romantic relationships, and tries to find her place in a career that just doesn’t suit her. She has in common with her friends the difficulties of defining oneself after college, in the workplace, and among romantic interests, professional competitors, and friendships whose foundations give out among more intense, adult situations.

The book is a testament to women’s lives following graduation, or it at least tries to be. There were some likenesses between these characters’ lives and my own life, but sometimes they all felt too similar. I suppose the thread that keeps these characters relevant to each other is the acquaintance with Isabella, and the difficulty of watching almost everyone but yourself get married. While I loved the variety of people I met throughout the book, it did become exhausting after a while. However, I owed this to the realities of people in real life knowing so many different people, yet only maintaining lasting friendships with a select few, and delving into the lives of those acquaintances brought them to fruition for me, even as just secondary characters.

The chapters could easily stand on their own as short stories. I enjoyed Close’s structure and pacing through the different characters, and always found myself eager to come up on another chapter focusing on Isabella. Each of the chapters had a theme, given by the title, and that theme was worked symbolically and literally into the respective chapter. My favorites were JonBenet and Other Tragedies, Blind, and Until the Worm Turns, all centered around Isabella, who had the most life revelations throughout the book. She was easily the most relate-able and likable for me, and was definitely a wise choice to put in the center of these narratives.

I struggled with whether or not I wanted to give this a three- or four-star rating. There were times, especially when the narrative focused on Lauren, that I felt her “voice” was a little unrealistic. She seemed more believable when described through Isabella’s chapters, and her story held less weight than even Mary’s – a character Close wrote well, but focused on very little outside of Isabella’s narratives. I think the biggest trouble in the book was the lack of difference between the characters in a story brimming with them. Perhaps, though, Close’s intention was to model the idea of a woman in a white dress as the place all of these women wanted to be at one point or another in their lives, and that their one commonality rested in trying to come to terms with that image in their own individual ways.

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