Mrs. Everythingby Jennifer Weiner Published 11 Jun 2019
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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.
"Mrs. Everything" Reviews
I first discovered Jennifer Weiner when my college roommate lent me Good in Bed, so I’ve been reading Weiner for a long time now. Ok, so I didn’t love the musical-theater interlude in All Fall Down, but in general, these are great character-driven, culturally Jewish fiction, about developed characters doing their best in the face of setbacks.
Her next novel, Mrs. Everything, is a family saga, beginning with two sisters in 1950s Detroit. (But did it really begin with them, or with, Sarah, their mother? Or her mother in the old country?) In Good in Bed, and then in Certain Girls, she explored some generational themes, showing how Cannie was reflected in her daughter. In Mrs. Everything, we see family relationships grow and evolve over the years.
Big sister Jo is a tomboy, uncomfortable in the mandatory skirts and dresses. The novel opens with a reference to Jo’s wife, so I knew going in that she’d eventually find happiness in a relationship with a woman, but the path isn’t smooth. Bethie seems like the pretty, pliable daughter, but as she gets older, she discovers the men, music and drugs of the sixties. The story takes us through the twists and turns of the sisters’ lives from there. Each time a new phase started, I didn’t exactly see it coming, but I though, oh, yeah, she’d do that. Bethie living in an all-woman commune? Jo teaching fitness classes? Ok, I can see that.
I had serious hopes for Jo’s first marriage, even if Bethie didn’t. Dave seemed like a friendly neighborhood boy who liked and respected Jo, and didn’t want too much intimacy so she could keep her secret. (Also, Nonie Scotto?!?!?)
The secondary characters are so well-developed, too. There are the commune women, who don’t want to participate in capitalism by making too much money from their hugely successful homemade jams. The ex-husband who won’t pay for college, but will pay for a nose job. The immigrant against affirmative action because she worked and struggled, everyone else should too.
Near the end of the novel, Jo has her beloved wife, a mature relationship with her sister, and three daughters. When they watch Hilary Clinton in her white pantsuit, there’s such a feeling of hopefulness for women and the future. It really highlights how much has changed over the course of the novel, both for Jo and Bethie personally, and for the expectations on women. Of course, the 2016 election showed how much our country really hates successful women, so I guess that’s not quite an uplifting ending. Still, there’s a feeling that Jo’s daughters and their children, and their children will continue the story.
I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy, and this book was truly wonderful. Rich, complex characters with plot-driven narratives that kept the pages turning, coupled with stellar writing. For sure my favorite Weiner book to date. Proudly feminist without being preachy. Look for it in June - it's excellent.
Where do I even begin? This book had my attention and heart from the first words in the author’s note.
Mrs. Everything follows Jo and Bethie, two Jewish sisters growing up in Detroit in the 1950s. The book tells each of their stories as they grow up, leave home, get married, have kids (or not) and find (or hide) themselves.
Jennifer Weiner’s books have always been among my favorites and her books are pretty much auto buys for me. The instant I saw she had a new one coming out, I preordered it. When I saw it on @Netgalley, I immediately wished for it and nearly died when the publisher, @atriabooks, granted my wish for the book. (Still keeping my preorder, because I fully believe in supporting authors and buying their books.)
Mrs. Everything just might be my top book of 2019. I know it’s still early in the year, but this book masterfully tackles hard and triggering topics. Weiner painted a beautiful narrative and presented two wildly different characters, yet I was drawn to and related to both in different ways.
As I read, my heart broke, not only for the sisters, but also for all the women who’ve followed similar paths and found a way to fight so no woman ever has to walk alone or broken.
This book was perfect from the beginning until the very last page.
Jennifer Weiner, you have truly outdone yourself with this one.
Having read every single one of Weiner's books, it's safe to say that I was reallllllllllly waiting impatiently for her to release new fiction (it's been four years since Who Do You Love was released). Well, I can truly say it was worth the wait.
Mrs. Everything is the story of Jo and Bethie, over their entire lifetime - sisters who are as different as they come but the most important person in the world to the other. This is the story of the lives of two Jewish women who grew up in a confusing time as descendants of immigrants in Philadelphia. This is the story of love, family, self-discovery, exploration, friendship, relationships and what it means to be yourself.
I cannot recommend this book enough, Bravo, Jennifer Weiner.
Thank you to Atria for an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
MRS. EVERYTHING follows the Kaufman sisters, Jo (6) and Bethie (4) from their move in 1951 into a single-family home in a new Detroit neighborhood, “the American Dream,” as their dad calls it, into the intense friendships and experiences of their teenage years, to the University of Michigan, communes, rock concerts, protests, drugs, adulthood, second and first marriages, motherhood (or not), entrepreneurship, etc.—in other words, Everything, good and not-so-good, the changes that have allowed women to live lives not possible in 1951.
(I received pre-publication access thanks to Edelweiss.)
This tale for the outcasts—the Jews, the “Negros”, the interracial couples, the homosexual couples and, yes, women—gives a real sense of the life in the 60s and throughout the 80s with the protests, the raising of awareness and differences and injustices, the rigid roles that women were expected to conform to, and the evolving world toward the end of the 2010s. Great characters, carefully drawn and breathing their struggles across the pages, round out this well-written story filled with historical and cultural references, and the best “trip” description, ever—if that doesn’t convey “kids, don’t do drugs!” I don’t know what will! If the book doesn’t open eyes on women’s condition, I don’t know what will, either.
I was fortunate to read an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Warm thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for the opportunity.