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Book Review: 'Such a Girl' proof it's never too late to right a wrong with an ex

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"Such a Girl" by Karen Siplin


"Such a Girl" was written in 2004 before the days when stalking an ex on Facebook and Twitter were common. Instead of the social media snooping, Karen Siplin's book has characters coming face to face with each other to deal with their past.

Jack Sullivan, a previous college student with no direction, has grown up to be a successful owner of a New England company called Sullivan Brewery. His ex-girlfriend, Kendall Starks, had all kinds of career aspirations in college. However, she ends up working in the basement of a ritzy New York hotel and has accomplished none of her original career aspirations. Neither have her college friends (Gary and Amy) who successfully convinced her to stop dating Jack because of his underachieving personality.

Outside of harsh breakups, the only thing Kendall has successfully managed to do is make half of her co-workers hate her, as well as some hotel guests, for being an obnoxious hotel operator whenever possible. The college version of Kendall would be shocked to find out what adult Kendall has yet to become. And seeing a suit-and-tie version of Jack nine years later is a reminder of that.

Nick, Gary's boyfriend, is the only one who managed to turn a job into a career while the rest are still trying to figure it out. Kendall is taking the longest at age 31, moving from her parents' home to being condo joint renters with Gary. Then there's Kendall's affair with a married front-desk attendant, Sage, who works in the same hotel.

When Jack shows up to Kendall's place of employment, she realizes that maybe she made some mistakes -- not just with her career but her love life. And when Jack drops the bomb that he's engaged, and his fiancee, Rae, follows him to the hotel, Kendall wonders why he's really in New York. Should she believe a job opportunity is the reason he traveled from Maine and just so happened to stay at her hotel? Why is Jack hanging out with her friends, the same friends who instigated their breakup? And why can't she shake her feelings of lust, love, anger and sadness every single time she sees her ex's room number 1700 pop up on her switchboard phone?

Some couples grow apart. Some couples had no business dating in the first place. Then there are other couples who make people wonder why they didn't have that "happily ever after" life. "Such a Girl" is such a good read that I've read it three times. In 2004, I gave the book three stars. A decade later, with fresh eyes and more experience to relate to the 31-year-old hotel operator, Siplin earned five stars. Kendall's unpredictable personality with her ex made the plot just as unpredictable until the very end.

Recommended Reading:

Q&A interview with Karen Siplin (Page 1, Page 2)

Karen Siplin's website

For more of Shamontiel's book recommendations, click Shamontiel's Bookshelf and follow her Pinterest board.

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