ABOUT THE BOOK:
From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.
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?
What a beautiful, epic story. I bought the book for both my mother-in-law and daughter! This is a story for all generations.
Both a story of the American dream and a history of America from the past several decades, this book had me enraptured at the tale of Bethie and Jo, two Jewish sisters growing up in Detroit. Bethie is the quintessential good girl, eager to please her teachers and her family. Jo is the rebellious one, always different, and always angering their traditional mother. This book was an absolutely stunning portrayal of how women’s roles have changed and evolved over the past 50 years.
“She loved [her daughters]. More than that, she admired them. They would be better than she was: stronger and smarter, more capable and less afraid, and if the world displeased them, they would change it, cracking it open, reshaping it, instead of bending themselves to its demands.”
Both girl’s paths diverge wildly over the course of the book and Jo and Bethie both end up in very unlikely places. Real-life events are interwoven into this very poignant story, giving it almost a non-fiction feel. Although I had the Kindle version, I highly recommend the audio book as the narrators literally made me feel I was listening to a riveting movie.
Several traumatic events occur, which change the sisters’ lives irrevocably. But through it all, they remain devoted and fiercely loyal to each other. My heart broke for both Bethie and for Jo, for very different reasons. This was my first book by Jennifer Weiner and I was absolutely transfixed! I loved the references to the 60s and 70s and this book brought back many memories. It also gave me insight into how far women have come in this country, and how far we have to go.
“We lose ourselves,” she repeated, forming each word with care, “but we find our way back.”
Jennifer Weiner is now one of my must-read authors. I felt like Bethie and Jo and the rest of the main characters in this book were actually real people! And there is no greater compliment to an author than that.
(ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)