Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #15: Fabookulous April 27, 2010

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

Book description~ Twenty-nine year old Lindsey Rose has always lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named Creative Vice President of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of 80 plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully-constructed life implodes. Humiliated and desperate, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her prince charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin, while she furtively tries to put her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

Of course The Opposite of Me was on my TBR list, as I’ve been anticipating this book for months. To be more particular: I’ve been waiting almost a year. It was after a book signing last summer that LibraryLove and I met Planetbooks who turned us on to up-and-coming breakout author, Sarah Pekkanen. And I was honored enough to be able to borrow LibraryLove’s very own autographed-by-Sarah copy of this debut novel!

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I had such high expectations, that I am an only child and don’t share that sibling bond with anyone (though my best friends FEEL like sisters I never had), or a culmination of those facts and how busy I was during the time I read this book. But I found myself disappointed until the end. I didn’t feel the characters had a lot of depth to them and I found myself annoyed at Lindsay’s self-centerdness and insecurity regarding boys. I wanted to love this book as much as my friends have but it just wasn’t happening for me. The story didn’t resonate with me or speak to me and I couldn’t relate to any of it. Maybe that’s why.

But then, about 3/4 through the book, my experience with these characters changed. It almost felt like I was reading a different story entirely. There was depth to the characters, there was compassion, love, commitment and struggle among family. It was wonderful to watch the sisters’ relationship change and develop. I believe the reason I enjoyed the last part of the book is because it’s a topic I have double-experience with. (I can’t say what it is because I don’t want to give anything away) But it pulled on my heart strings and it was at THAT part that I couldn’t put the book down. I feel disappointed it took that long to get to that part in the book, but I look forward to seeing what Sarah does next!

4 out of 5 stars.

Happy Reading,

Fabookulous

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Book #18 LibraryLove March 21, 2010

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

Book description~ Twenty-nine year old Lindsey Rose has always lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named Creative Vice President of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of 80 plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully-constructed life implodes. Humiliated and desperate, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her prince charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin, while she furtively tries to put her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

Honey on popcorn and the champagne chagrin. Be sure to ’86 the tart lingonberries at the Ikea discount breakfast! From page one I was hooked and couldn’t put this book down.  I literally laughed OUT loud before chapter two! I often criticize books AND movies for not ‘hooking’ me soon enough. I absolutely cannot say that about The Opposite of Me.  I was so jealous of my friends who had a clear schedule to devour this book the day it came out in print. Unfortunately, I had to wait to start this, the book I’ve been waiting since July 2009 to read!!! I was in the middle of reading/reviewing another book when Pekkanen’s debut novel became available in print! Despite my body telling me otherwise, I sacrificed sleep because I could not WAIT to see what happened to Lindsey on her trek back home.

Pekkanen’s novel, The Opposite of Me, is the story of solidarity in family, and how things that separate us, often bring us back to one another, despite our attempts at the contrary.  In the book we follow Lindsey and Alex, two sisters who at first, perceive themselves as complete opposites (hence the title, har har). As the story unfolded, at least for me, it became a tale about two sisters who couldn’t be more similar. Yes, yes, I KNOW that is contrary to the title- it’s called dramatic irony, folks! You have to read to find out 🙂

“Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin?” Lindsey asks. I loved pondering Lindsey’s question as the story unfolded.  I won’t spoil the twists and turns because you will LOVE navigating them on your own. But I loved the rich character development and internal conflict Lindsey dealt with, as she felt like the ugly duckling in the shadows of her stunning sister Alex, until things shifted unexpectedly. Pekkanen does such an artful job of crafting the characters, their struggles, and drawing the reader in with multiple parallels and peaks of rising action throughout the story.  I felt like I was following along on  “Lindsey-cam”  the whole way through, seeing and feeling life through Lindsey’s eyes, as it unfolded for her AND me. I especially cringed/laughed at the OH SO EMBARRASSING scene where Lindsey’s eyes squint open to adjust to the light and standing right in front of her is…Mr. Dunne!! I laughed while simultaneously cringing in embarrassment for her! I cannot IMAGINE how small I would feel in her shoes at that moment!! I especially loved the scene at Tony & Joe’s that Lindsey facilitated for her ‘new friend’. It reminded me of a scene from Pattie Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Loved every moment!

A few of the other highlights for me- Lindsey’s ‘Clark Kent’ quick convenience store changes, going for the Hail Mary w/ the rooftop picnic and its awkwardness setting in, and Lindsey’s magic 8-ball manhunt then stumbling upon some interesting new  information that further cemented Lindsey’s perception that she and Alex really didn’t know each other at all…or did they?

I just HAD to know why the MRI tech was making the sign of the cross,  and cried at the moment of stark florescence of the MVA’s  lights on Alex’s head.  I couldn’t read fast enough, but wanted to pace myself and enjoy each moment. I loved Lindsey’s strength in helping build Alex up. I loved Alex’s strength in helping build Lindsey up.  Right before the reader’s eye, it becomes clear that Lindsey is that brown chipped and painted brick wall of the fixer upper- she’s just waiting for the right person to nurture, restore, and appreciate her. Who knew pizza men could be so dang charming?? 😉

Friends who I recommended this book to were glued to the pages. I received harried texts along the way because the suspense was agonizingly delicious!

I’m sad this book is over and feel the need to share plain bagels and ginger ale with my sister. I am so honored to call such a talented author, Sarah Pekkanen, my friend. She was featured in People magazine with a fantastic review. Jennifer Weiner gave her the ‘Golden Touch’ by being one of her biggest outward supporters. I was bursting with excitement at Sarah’s debut book signing event and after party. I’m just bummed that I have to wait ANOTHER year for her next novel 😉

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookish establishment and buy your copy of The Opposite of Me today! Oh and then take 2-3 days off and clear your calendar so you can read this without interruption! Sarah, cheers to you and all of your success as your book goes back to print after just ONE week! You’re a rock star. I am so thrilled to be on this ride supporting you every step of the way. Three final words: Roadtrip to Philly!

5/5 stars

18 down, 34 to go!

In progress, The Happiness Project

Xoxo,

LibraryLove

 

Sarah Pekkanen’s Book Signing:: The Opposite of Me :: March 10, 2010

It’s not everyday your friend becomes a published novelist. Wouldn’t ya know that yesterday WAS one of those days??

The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, was FINALLY out in publication yesterday after months and months of anticipation. As some of her biggest fans, we of course arrived as early as possible to be front and center, showing our support and love.

The girls and I grabbed dinner to-go from Cosi and arrived before the chairs were even set up. I have no shame and as “the stealthy room mom” we set up our makeshift carpet picnic in the middle of the kid’s section of the book store, where the reading would eventually take place, to save our spot. The room started to fill and Sarah came out about a  half hour before the reading to mill around and visit with her guests. Sarah grew up in the area and we knew it’d be a packed house with all her friends, family and supporters! 

While the girls went upstairs to buy their books, I had some really nice quality time to chat with Sarah (although I was sad they missed our convo). I shared how amazed I was that Jennifer Weiner, one of my all time favorite novelists, was so supportive of Sarah’s novel- giving her the Golden Touch (think Oprah to Rachael Ray). I asked her if she’d thought about doing a co-tour with Jennifer Weiner? Or thought of teaming up on some east coast dates? I expressed how much my friends and I would JUMP at the opportunity to attend a joint charity women’s tea/brunch/lunch if both ladies were to host a round table discussion on being a modern woman in the writing industry. She loved the idea and I look forward to our “Roadtrip to Philly” to come to fruition! 😉 What a dream come true for Sarah! I adore Sarah’s approachability and down to earth nature. She’s easy going, sweet, and opened the floor up for questions for the good part of 30 minutes last night at the reading. I’ve never heard so many great questions asked from an audience. I especially loved hearing Sarah’s endearing responses and learning about the writing process (from both a business and creative perspective). As a wife and mother of 3 sons, I’m amazed at how well Sarah balances all the hats she wears and her drive and comic timing inspire me. After the signing, we headed over to Parker’s for the after-party celebration and so Sarah could get that LONG OVERDUE Chocolate-tini!

We surprised her with a handmade card (thank you Planetbooks!) and a bottle of our ‘special’ champagne. Sarah’s husband, Glenn Reynolds, was so sweet to come over and chat with us while Sarah mingled with her other guests. As the night went on and folks were gradually making their way home, we stuck around. We planned ahead for a late night on purpose.  We wanted some quality time to really chat with Sarah and show our support and love for her but one-on-one. Her FIRST book signing for her FIRST novel obviously is a once in a lifetime occurrence. These events are like weddings- you want to make your rounds and say thank you to everyone. We honestly didn’t expect to have as much one-on-one time with Sarah as we did (although we were hopeful)! It just truly touched us that Sarah and Glenn gave so much of their evening to us. We all went home feeling like we were floating on a cloud. I woke up with the same feeling this morning. I cannot say enough how gentle, kind, sweet and just downright adorable Sarah is! She invited us to join her on that  road trip to Philly and I just cannot wait to watch all the success unfold for Sarah Pekkanen.  I hope you will pick up a copy of The Opposite of Me! And don’t forget to check out this week’s People Magazine for the review of The Opposite of Me! Looking forward to joining Glenn in Sarah’s cheering section for many years to come.

Sarah, from the bottom of my heart, I could not be more excited and proud to witness your moment in the spotlight.

And for goodness sake, PLEASE set some time aside with your adorable hubby Glenn to enjoy that champagne.

You deserve it.

All my love and support,

xoxo,

LibraryLove

PS- Special thanks to Planetbooks and Amy for making the

night even more special because we shared it together.


 

Breakout Author’s Spotlight:: Sarah Pekkanen:: February 20, 2010

Are you a fan of authors like Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin?

Do you love quick whitted and down to earth authors?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, you will ADORE Sarah Pekkanen! Major congratulations are in order for my friend’s brand new breakout novel, The Opposite of Me, in stores March 9th, 2010.

Please check out Sarah’s Website for more information on her book, tour dates, and to sign up for her hysterical monthly newsletter. Oh, and email Lorne Michels and tell him you want to see Sarah on Saturday Night Live 😉

Sarah Pekkanen’s work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader’s Digest, and Washingtonian, among others. She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment’s “Gossip Show.” She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons. ~Simon & Schuster

Other Sarah Pekkanen News:

Publisher’s Weekly Deals, 07/21/08
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6579803.html?industryid=47146
A first novel by Sarah Pekkanen titled The Opposite of Me; Victoria Sanders sold world English rights. Pekkanen, a monthly columnist for Bethesda magazine, will, tongue in cheek, explore low self-esteem, the hunger to succeed and have it all, and the grueling but rewarding bond of sisterhood. Pekannen’s work has been published in a host of newspapers and magazines. Pub date is early 2010.

Bethesda Magazine

Other clippings

“Rookie reporter scoops the big guys on Collins,” Detroit Journal
http://www.forensic-intelligence.org/corrupt/10rookie14.htm

Xoxo, LibraryLove

PS- Special thanks to my dear friend PlanetBooks for introducing me to

Sarah, who is so whitty, our facebook conversations crack me up everytime!