Monday, April 20, 2015

Just Be

"Broken people make the best heroes."
--Liza Palmer, Girl Before a Mirror


Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Source: Won from Goodreads
Previous Books by this Author: Nowhere But Home
Goodreads Description

The author of Conversations with a Fat Girl—optioned for HBO—returns with the hilarious and heartfelt story of a woman who must learn how to be the heroine of her own life-a journey that will teach her priceless lessons about love, friendship, family, work, and her own heart

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account.

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control.

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story.

Wow...this is going to be a review of flails and girl power and everything in between. I had read and loved Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer last year and was thoroughly looking forward to Girl Before a Mirror ESPECIALLY after receving a frantic text from Cass immediately after she finished it telling me I have to read this, she'll send it to me, whatever it takes to read. YAY! Well, then I won it on Goodreads so Cass sent it along to another person. ANYWAYS my point with this is becasue I had my own copy, I sat on it. I don't know why. But I waited to read it until the mood struck me, I'm a mood reader and would hate for a book to suffer just because I'm not in the mood for it, ya know. What my long winded pre-reading explanation is telling you is this...I could kick myself in the face repeatedly for waiting to read this book. You...yeah, YOU go read this book! If you have a vagina, go BUY the book, you'll want a copy for your library and for your mom, aunt, sister, niece, daughter, friend, co-worker to read. Spead the love.

Why do I want to kick myself in the face? Because it was that good. THAT amazing. THAT inspiring. I don't use the word inspiring often because when I say it I mean it. Girl Before a Mirror is about Anna, a 40 year old woman commited to landing an ad campaign that allows her to pitch to the big leagues in NYC at Quincy Pharmaceuticals, more specifically Lumineux shower gel. I hope I'm saying that right because I'm a nurse y'all, I don't work in business so this was a bit of a learning curve for me. Anyways, she is determined to make her name known and I loved this about her. While in some aspects of her life Anna was unsure and lacked confidence, when it came to elbowing her way into Lumineux shower gel, she took the reins even if she was terrified while doing so.

Anna's character is someone who a lot of women, if not all, can relate to on some level. She didn't thrive in social settings, second guesses herself in a lot of her decisions, and has a constant feeling of needing fulfillment. Her journey into self-acceptance of all the dents and dark places in her personality is beautiful. Sasha is a new employee, an artist, working with Anna on the campaign. Sasha. is. my. favorite. Beautiful, smart, talented, and zero clue how to handle men. I loved this about her and she is a character I really related to. What I loved most about her was hearing her trials and tribulations with men and Anna comments, 'After everything she's been through with men...she she still believes in love.' That is just...so powerful and so beautiful that she constantly rises up from the ashes of broken hearts and hurt feelings to still believe in the beauty and purity of love. Sasha is my spirit animal. I'm kind of in love with her.

The reason Sasha continues to be such a romantic brings us to our setting. She is an avid reader and lover of romance novels so when Anna finds 'Be Your Own Heroine, Find Your Hero' in her bag, it leads them to the Romance Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. A weekend long event of romance authors, panels, and a Mr RomanceCon pagent for the cover models...hello! The setting and situations Anna and Sasha face are hilarious and really help us know who our charcters are. It is at Anna's hotel that she meets Lincoln Mallory who she shares a connection...and torrid affair with. Their connection is deep and intense and Lincoln Mallory is a hero to swoon for. Wowza. They find themselves being at ease with one another and Anna feels like she is finally letting herself 'just be' who she is. She has always constantly worried and had to put on an act in fear people wouldn't love her for who she really is and Lincoln doens't make her feel that way. And I won't say more about that, you'll just have to read. Just know, the romance is awesome but that's not what stuck out to me.

What stuck out to me was the absolute beauty that is all the female empowerment going on. I love that. That is definitely a ME thing. Women realizing they are worth something, they are beautiful just the way they are, they are worthy of love and adoration is something I am all about. There are way too many ways and too much media influence on how many ways women are made to feel bad about themselves. Personally, it took me way too long to like myself. TO LIKE MYSELF. Why in the fuck are women hardwired to feel inadequate in this world? Why is it so difficult to LIKE ourselves. We are the only person who we can't get away from so why can't we even enjoy our own company? I can honestly say, it wasn't until I was 25 that I really accepted who I was, who I wasn't, who I was never going to be, and loving myself even more. It is a journey I know we have all struggled with and I am not alone in saying that it is a sad, sad world we live in where beautiful, smart, intelligent women have a means to feel bad about themselves.

This book is about tearing down that negativity and belief that we have to always be trying to be the perfect everything. We don't. We can 'Just Be' who we are, flaws and all, cellulite and muscles, wrinkles and imperfections. The way Liza Palmer takes this intricate topic and weaves it into the storyline is flawless. Her writing feels effortless and smooth and bobs and weaves it's way into your heart with her poignant words and honest feelings. The way Anna learns to beileve more in herself and take what she deserves is all kinds of badass and I was cheering for her the whole way. I loved reading how their words inspired so many women and it left me with such a happy feeling while I was reading and for quite a while after.

Ok, so this was my attempt at a review. I'm quite sure you've gained barely anything from the plot and me being a spazz about the characters and the message was all over the place BUT the feels are there. I loved this book. This should be on everybody's short list to read, especially if you are a woman. This is a book made for book clubs and discussion and thought-provoking questions.

Endgame? Read the book.


PS--I should also point out that this book got me excited to read ALL THE ROMANCE NOVELS EVER! HOW I made it through my whole life without reading a historical romance and contemporary romance novel is BEYOND me! Thanks to Alexa for all her amazing recs. Here are a few pics of my current obsession....*The only sad part is I don't have pictures of The Secret or Ransom by Julie Garwood as those are my first ever I read and still my favorites!!


VIP
If you love real characters, female empowerment, and seamless writing...this book's for you.


And don't forget to check back tomorrow when I talk to some of MY favorite females in a special tribute to this book's message :)

2 comments:

  1. I am definitely adding this to my TBR! I love stories that leave me feeling empowered and I have been wanting to read some adult fiction.

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  2. You already know how deeply moved I was by Girl Before a Mirror. It's so beautifully written, but even more than that, the themes that are woven into the story are stellar. I loved the way that Palmer gently lets readers know that it's okay to be who you are, how she showcases the way that all of us happen to be on our own personal journeys and there's no right or wrong way to go about that. So in love with how Palmer wrote this story, and loved reading your thoughts too!

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