Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: The Shoestring Club

By Melissa Amster

There's a picture going around on Facebook about how The Wizard of Oz is the ultimate chick flick because it's about two women fighting over shoes. If that's the case, then four women sharing a dress makes "The Shoestring Club," by Sarah Webb, the ultimate chick lit novel.

Julia Schuster's ex-boyfriend is marrying her (now ex) best friend and she needs to look spectacular at their wedding to show it's not bothering her one bit. When she sees the perfect dress at her family's thrift store, Shoestring, she must have it. However, she barely has a job and there's a deadline for coming up with the funds. Then Arietty Pilgrim, an elephant keeper at the zoo, comes by needing a dress to wear to her reunion, where she knows she'll see her nemesis once again. Soon, Julia and Arietty come up with a dress sharing plan that has the power to change both their lives.

I will admit I wanted to read this book because it sounded light and fluffy, as it involved fashion and shopping. However, once I started it, I was grabbed by the depth of the story and couldn't get enough of Julia (a.k.a. Jules or Boolie). She may be over a decade younger than me, but I felt like she was older than that. I saw facets of myself in her at times. She harbored a lot of issues from her past and carried those around with her, creating other problems for herself in the meantime. I really wanted to see her come through it all and end up on top.

The supporting characters in "The Shoestring Club" all add so much to the story, whether they are allies or enemies. I liked Julia's grandmother, Bird. She may have been old, but she came off as young and energetic, while also the voice of tough love for Julia. Her niece, Iris, sounded like a lot of fun too. And I couldn't get enough of her best guy friend, Jamie. Really, all the characters were so interesting and easy to visualize and provided good support or a strong foil for Julia's plans. I did notice that some characters faded into the background after a while. I would have liked Rowie to stick around a bit more. I also had trouble keeping track of everyone initially, until Sarah explained their relation to the story. There may have potentially been too many characters, but they were all entertaining in their own ways.

The side stories were also very interesting, whether they were about Julia's past or about what Arietty was dealing with in her own life. I partially wished that Arietty had her own side of the story to tell (like in alternating chapters), but I got a lot of information through her conversations with Julia. Maybe she'll get her own story in another novel someday. After all, Julia's sister, Pandora gets her own novel next! (And I already can't wait to read it!)

I highly recommend "The Shoestring Club." When I finished reading it, I literally gave the book a hug. It left me with lots of warm fuzzy feelings. Given that Sarah Webb lives in Ireland, Marian Keyes has some major competition. And I have a feeling she's here to stay for quite some time...

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the book in exchange for an honest review. They are giving away a copy (worldwide) at Sarah Webb's interview post

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