Review: The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men

08Jan14
Image spotted at Girlfriends Book Club. Click through to read a fun blog post from Carter.

Image spotted at Girlfriends Book Club. Click through to read a fun blog post from Carter.

Thursday is a stand-up comic and serial dater, staying with each guy for about a month before she dumps him and moves on. Lately, though, she’s been having dreams about running after a man and accepting his proposal, which she takes as a sign that maybe she needs to try a different approach to dating. Sharita, one of Thursday’s besties, offers her a copy of the dating guide after which Carter’s novel is named, and the changes are on. Thursday, Sharita, and their friends Risa and Tammy are four of the most interesting women I’ve spent time with in the “chick lit” genre, and if you like your love stories with a bit of an edge, you are going to enjoy getting to know them.

Unlike most chick lit heroines, who focus exclusively on the problems of looking cute and finding a man, Carter’s women are well-rounded and genuine, people you could imagine meeting, talking to, befriending. They balance their desire for true love with their worries about their careers, their sense of self, their relationship (or lack thereof) to God, their family ties. Their lives are messy, and sometimes they fight with each other so badly they stop talking for a while, but they are always there for each other when one of them is in trouble. You will care about them because you will feel like you know them, or want to.

Thursday’s struggles are front and center in the plot, and they are heavy: coping with her mother’s death and her difficult relationship to her father (and the resulting ambivalence about dating Black men), as well as floundering on her career path. Sharita, in contrast, is on the fast track to make partner in her accounting firm, but drops everything–including her friends–every time a new boyfriend is in the picture. Risa, an openly lesbian musician, is striving for success to win back the woman she loves, not realizing how much better she could do by living for herself rather than someone else. And the enigmatic Tammy, a model who appears at first to be nothing more than a pretty face, turns out to be a lot more complicated than the reader gives her credit for (I would’ve loved to see more focus on her and her character development, but it makes sense for the narrative structure to keep her a mystery until the big reveals come around).

Words cannot begin to describe how much I loved this book. Carter made me care about these women right from the get-go by making them well-rounded characters with flaws, dreams, and good qualities even they sometimes aren’t aware of. There were moments that I actually started to cry while reading, and I never saw the plot twists coming. I love that there are gay characters in this book, and that their search for love was presented as just as meaningful and important as any straight woman’s. I love that Thursday meets a man who challenges her and encourages her to grow. I love that the end of the book made me cry, and yet was still a happy ending (have some tissues handy, seriously), and I love the bonus story Carter adds at the end (learn your history). If you are looking for some solid pleasure reading that has all the trappings of conventional chick lit, but manages to stay grounded and focused in real life, take this out for a spin. You will not be disappointed.

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