Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close.
It’s hilarious – again, rom-com done right, and with a pulse and a grittiness that is hard to find in this genre. I think I laughed out loud on just about every page. Close “gets” girlfriends: How we interact, how we talk to each other, how we love each other. Plus, she’s a genius with dialog.
The story centers on a group of twenty-something female friends in Manhattan. Like Dunham’s Girls, the women live in vermin-infested walkups, desperately trying both to make bills and “find themselves,” but the novel’s scope continues through this period and into their middle adulthood (careers, marriages, babies, divorces).
To me, the best part of the book is Close’s understanding of female friendship. True girlfriends, the best kind, know exactly what to say when we’re at our worst. They are masters of self-deprecation with the timing of a comedian, or an Olympic hurdler.
One of my favorite parts from the book happens at Mary’s wedding. (Background: Mary’s mother-in-law is named Button. She’s insufferable, as the name would require.) During the reception, Button finds Mary and says, “You know that Ken can’t eat shrimp, right? He breaks out in hives.”
“Yes,” Mary said. “I know.”
“Oh, okay.” Button seemed relieved. “I just wanted to make sure. I just didn’t know why you would ever serve shrimp at your wedding if you knew your husband could break out in hives.”
Mary went to the bathroom and locked herself in the handicapped stall. She stood in her dress and breathed deep breaths until she heard Isabella walk in.
“Mary?” Isabella called. “Are you in here?’’
Mary unlocked the stall and stood there. “Button,” she said.
Isabella nodded. “Harrison’s mother told me last weekend that she thought polka dots were out of style.”
“So?” Mary asked.
“I was wearing my pink-and-white polka dot dress,” Isabella said.
“Okay,” Mary said. “Okay.”
This is what we do, right? This is how we communicate our support of and love for one another – no matter how bad your situation seems, it’s actually normal, and at least we’re all in this crazy fucking boat together. Girls in White Dresses is a love letter to girlfriends.