The Girls is a modern chick lit version of The Women by Clare Boothe Luce. This book, like that classic play, is made especially interesting because boys are talked about, but not featured as active characters! In this modern version, girl-next-door Peggy enrolls at an upper-crust Aspen prep school and finds herself way out of her league. She is intimidated by the seeming perfection of her roommate Mary, who is beautiful, popular, and the girlfriend of a wealthy hotelier's son. She is intimidated by Sylvia, the constantly color-coordinated, gossip-saavy diva of the school. And she is intimidated by the town of Aspen, which is filled with overpriced lattes and celebrity sightings.
Peggy finds herself in a moral dilemma when she overhears Amber, the local coffee shop’s barista, claiming that Mary’s boyfriend Stephen is cheating on her with a local salesgirl. Should Peggy tell Mary and hurt her feelings and possibly her relationship over what could be gossip? Or should she stay silent and possibly betray her friend? The choice is made no easier by the fact that Sylvia has also overheard, and could potentially relay the news to Mary before Peggy does, possibly usurping the roommate’s friendship.
As Peggy wrestles with the decision, she goes to the shop to see the salesgirl in question and overhears some incriminating evidence. When Mary must confront the crisis, unfortunately Sylvia has joined Peggy as her support system. However, we see a more vulnerable Sylvia as she begins to share in the girls’ weekly grilled cheese confidences. And soon the girls team up to confront cheating boyfriends. As The Girls ends, various characters pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, and join the drama, hurling accusations at one another’s boyfriends. The plot dissolves into a series of catfights, which are fun but shallow. Luckily, the book is made interesting by its setting, Colorado (refreshing to see snobbery outside of NY/LA!) and by the prominent role which food plays in the narrative. It is supremely refreshing to see a young female narrator (Peggy) who sees food as neither an enemy nor a savior, but rather a creative medium. Throughout the book, Peggy deals with stress by zoning out and creating elaborate and fanciful recipes in her mind. A responsible young woman who provides a centered view of the dramatized girly events around her, the narrator is skillful and inventive at her job as a chef’s assistant in a hip Aspen restaurant. She clearly has talent, passion, and creativity. As a plus, Tucker Shaw, himself a food journalist, includes some of the yummy recipes at the back of the book!