I wanted to read something a little different to what I normally read but along the lines of what I am trying to write myself. I remembered seeing one of the books from the series Brooklyn Girls in a library and thought I would give them a go. There are three books in the Brooklyn Girls series, Pia being the first.
“Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable. Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends—Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine—sharing a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of their “semi-adult” lives. The first story belongs to sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to start SkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that’s without counting her roommates’ problems, too. Gemma Burgess has captured the confusion, hilarity and excitement of the post-graduate years against a backdrop of the pressures and chaos of New York City life, with heartfelt empathy, fast humor and sharp honesty.
A charming debut series about five twenty-something girls and the humor, heartbreak, and drama that bring them together.”
I did not find this book “Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable”. In fact, pretty much everything that occurred in Pia’s life was unrealistic and entirely unrelatable. In this book, Pia manages to have topless photos of herself posted on facebook, borrow $10,000 from a loan shark, get held at gunpoint, have the romantic attention of a rich and well to do bachelor, start her own business and turn it into a huge success in three weeks and end up in jail… I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a single twenty-something-year-old who has done a single one of these things. So, the story isn’t relatable in my opinion, especially not “utterly relatable”. I struggle to understand how anyone can possibly describe a person as sophisticated, straight after announcing that there are pictures of the same person dancing topless, drunk at a party… Pia’s actions were reckless and childish. She had absolutely no common sense and didn’t appear to understand the consequences of her actions. I just didn’t find her funny. Being a similar age to Pia, I expected to be able to relate to her and laugh along with her, but I found myself thinking, “Is this how the world sees women in my age group?”
Possibly the nicest and most relatable part of the book is the apartment and the group of girls that live together, even though their characters are still exaggerated, far fetched versions of real-life young women. Angie (which is the next book in the series) comes across as the “cool kid” of the group. I imagined her being a bit of a stylish rocker type. Burgess did a great job painting the picture of Angie’s personality through her relationship with Pia. Such as the tough love she shows Pia and the secrets that Angie keeps. I found Madeline to be moody, boring and unpleasant. I didn’t really think that her presence in the story made any difference. Julia and Coco both came across as the kindest characters and with Coco being the final book in the series, I am relieved that she is a bit more of a responsible character.
For me, the book felt as though this was how someone who has never been a woman in their mid-twenties thinks this is what being a woman in your mid-twenties is like. Any attempts to be amusing came across incredibly immature and it was more like what a young teenager considers to be “cool” than what a young adult does. From getting revenge on a rival business by vandalizing their property, to getting hammered on a date and running out like a mentalist… Pia does not demonstrate any adult decision making.
I would have forgiven Pia’s irresponsible and careless behavior had she learned a lesson, but any hurdles that came up in her life were resolved way too quickly and unrealistically.
I can appreciate what Burgess was trying to do, I just don’t understand where she has got the inspiration for the characters from. They are like no young woman I have ever met. For a book that claims to be relatable, it is the most far fetched young adult/chick lit book I have read yet. I think this is a book I would have enjoyed more to read when I was a teenager, the only issue may have been with the drug references, however, I don’t think they were necessary to the story at all. Knowing that Pia occasionally indulges in cocaine does not tell us anything more about how reckless she is than we already know. Burgess’s writing appeared afraid and unfamiliar when drugs were mentioned, which didn’t fit with the impression she was trying to give.
I will continue to read the next in the series as I would like to see how Angie and Coco come across in their books.
If you loved the book, great! The joy of the beholder. This is only my personal opinion.