Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, 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 piece 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.
|Publisher:||Washington Square Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Opposite of MeA Novel
By Sarah Pekkanen
Washington Square PressCopyright © 2010 Sarah Pekkanen
All right reserved.
AS I PULLED OPEN the heavy glass door of Richards, Dunne & Krantz and walked down the long hallway toward the executive offices, I noticed a light was on up ahead.
Lights were never on this early. I quickened my step.
The light was on in my office, I realized as I drew closer. I'd gone home around 4:00 A.M. to snatch a catnap and a shower, but I'd locked my office door. I'd checked it twice. Now someone was in there.
I broke into a run, my mind spinning in panic: Had I left my storyboard out in plain view? Could someone be sabotaging the advertising campaign I'd spent weeks agonizing over, the campaign my entire future hinged on?
I burst into my office just as the intruder reached for something on my desk.
“Lindsey! You scared me half out of my wits!” my assistant, Donna, scolded as she paused in the act of putting a steaming container of coffee on my desk.
“God, I'm sorry,” I said, mentally smacking myself. If I ever ended up computer dating—which, truth be told, it was probably going to come down to one of these days—I'd have to check the ever-popular “paranoid freak” box when I listed my personality traits. I'd better buy a barricade to hold back the bachelors of New York.
“I didn't expect anyone else in this early,” I told Donna as my breathing slowed to normal. Note to self: Must remember to join a gym if a twenty-yard dash leaves me winded. Best not to think about how often I'll actually use the gym if I've been reminding myself to join one for the past two years.
“It's a big day,” Donna said, handing me the coffee.
“You're amazing.” I closed my gritty eyes as I took a sip and felt the liquid miracle flood my veins. “I really needed this. I didn't get much sleep.”
“You didn't eat breakfast either, did you?” Donna asked, hands on her hips. She stood there, all of five feet tall, looking like a rosy-cheeked, doily-knitting grandma. One who wouldn't hesitate to get up off her rocking chair and reach for her sawed-off shotgun if someone crossed her.
“I'll have a big lunch,” I hedged, avoiding Donna's eyes.
Even after five years, I still hadn't gotten used to having an assistant, let alone one who was three decades older than me but earned a third of my salary. Donna and I both knew she wore the pants in our relationship, but the secret to our happiness was that we pretended otherwise. Kind of like my parents—Mom always deferred to Dad's authority, after she mercilessly browbeat him into taking her point of view.
“I'm going to check in with the caterers now,” Donna said. “Should I hold your calls this morning?”
“Please,” I said. “Unless it's an emergency. Or Walt from Creative—he's freaking out about the font size on the dummy ad and I need to calm him down. Or Matt. I want to do another run-through with him this morning. And let's see, who else, who else . . . Oh, anyone from Gloss Cosmetics, of course.
“Oh, God, they're going to be here in”—I looked at my watch and the breath froze in my lungs—“two hours.”
“Hold on just a minute, missy,” Donna ordered in a voice that could only be described as trouser-wearing. She bustled to her desk and returned with a blueberry muffin in a little paper bag and two Advil.
“I knew you wouldn't eat, so I got extra. And you're getting a headache again, aren't you?” she asked.
“It's not so bad,” I lied, holding out my hand for the Advil and hoping Donna wouldn't notice I'd bitten off all my fingernails. Again.
When Donna finally shut my door, I sank into my big leather chair and took another long, grateful sip of coffee. The early-morning sunlight streamed in through the windows behind me, glinting off the golden Clio Award on my desk. I ran a finger over it for luck, just like I did on every presentation day.
Then I stroked it a second time. Because this wasn't an ordinary presentation day. So much more was riding on today than winning another multimillion-dollar account. If I nailed my pitch and added Gloss Cosmetics to our roster of clients . . . I squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn't finish the thought; I didn't want to jinx myself.
I leapt up and walked across the room to look at my pictures of my babies, another one of my superstitious rituals on big days. One of my walls was covered with simple but expensive black frames, each showcasing a different magazine ad: a dad in a red apron barbecuing hot dogs; a preppy couple sinking their bare toes into their new carpet; a young executive reclining in her first-class airline seat. Blissfully reclining.
I smiled, remembering that campaign. It had taken me two weeks and three focus groups to decide on the word blissful instead of peaceful. Yet my whole campaign was almost torpedoed at the last minute because the model I'd chosen had the exact same hairstyle as the airline owner's ex-wife, who'd convinced him that true love didn't require a prenup. If I hadn't spotted a five-dollar tub of hair gel in the makeup artist's case and begged the client for thirty more seconds, our agency would've lost a $2 million account on account of a chin-length bob. Clients were notoriously fickle, and the rule of thumb was, the richer the client, the crazier.
The one I was meeting today owned half of Manhattan.
I grabbed the mock-up of the magazine ad my creative team had put together for Gloss and scanned it for the millionth time, searching for nonexistent flaws. I'd spent three solid weeks agonizing over every detail of this campaign, which I'd get maybe ten minutes to present in our conference room in— I looked at my watch and my heart skipped a beat.
Unlike other ad shops, it was the culture of my agency to blur the division between the creative work and the business side of our accounts. If you wanted to succeed at Richards, Dunne & Krantz, you had to be able to do both. Of course, that also meant all the responsibility for this presentation was mine alone.
The worst part, the part that gnawed at my stomach and jolted me awake at 3:00 A.M. on nights when I managed to fall asleep, was that all my work, all those marathon stale-pizza weekend sessions and midnight conference calls, might be for nothing. If the owner of Gloss rejected my ads—if something as simple as the perfume I was wearing or a splashy adjective in my copy rubbed him the wrong way—hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission for our agency would slip through my fingers like smoke. Once a Japanese tycoon who owned a chain of luxury hotels sat through a brilliant, two-months-in-the-making campaign presentation our agency's president had personally overseen—I'm talking about the kind of creative vision that would've won awards, the kinds of commercials everyone would've buzzed about—and dismissed it with a grunt, which his assistant cheerfully translated as “He doesn't like blue.” That was it; no chance to tweak the color of the ad copy, just a group of stunned advertising execs with the now-useless skill of saying, “Konnichi-wa!” being herded like sheep to the exit.
I gulped another Advil from the secret stash inside my desk drawer, the one Donna didn't know about, and massaged the knot in my neck with one hand while I stared at the mock-up ad my team had created for Gloss.
After Gloss Cosmetics had approached our agency last month, hinting that they might jump from their current agency, our agency's president—a forty-two-year-old marketing genius named Mason, who always wore red Converse sneakers, even with his tuxedo—called our top five creative teams into his office.
“Gloss wants to kick some Cover Girl ass,” Mason had said, swigging from a bottle of Lipton iced tea (they were a client) and tapping his Bic pen (ditto) against the top of his oak conference table. Mason was so loyal to our clients that he once walked out of a four-star restaurant because the chef wouldn't substitute Kraft ranch for champagne-truffle dressing.
“Gloss's strategy is accessible glamour,” Mason had continued. “Forget the Park Avenue princesses; we're going after schoolteachers and factory girls and receptionists.” His eyes had roved around the table so he could impale each of us with his stare, and I swear he hadn't blinked for close to two minutes. Mason reminded me of an alien, with his bald, lightbulb-shaped head and hooded eyes, and when he went into his blinkless trances I was convinced he was downloading data from his mother ship. My assistant, Donna, was certain he just needed a little more vitamin C; she kept badgering him to go after the Minute Maid account.
“What was the recall score of Gloss's last commercial?” someone at the other end of the table had asked. It was Slutty Cheryl, boobs spilling out of her tight white shirt as she stretched to reach a Lipton from the stack in the middle of the conference table.
“Can I get that for you?” Matt, our assistant art director, had offered in a voice that sounded innocent if you didn't know him well.
Matt was my best friend at the office. My only real friend, actually; this place made a sadists' convention seem cozy and nurturing.
“I can reach it,” Cheryl had said bravely, tossing back her long chestnut hair and straining away as Matt shot me a wink. You'd think that after a few hundred meetings she'd have figured out an easier way to wet her whistle, but there she was, week after week, doing her best imitation of a Hooters girl angling for a tip. By the purest of coincidences, she always got thirsty right when she asked a question, so all eyes were on her.
“Cover Girl's last commercial, the one with Queen Latifah, hit a thirty recall, and Gloss's latest scored a twelve,” Mason had said without consulting any notes. He had a photographic memory, which was one reason why our clients put up with the sneakers.
I could see why Gloss was testing the waters at other agencies. Twelve wasn't good.
The recall score is one of the most effective tools in advertising's arsenal. It basically tells what percentage of people who watched your commercial actually remembered it. Cheryl, who's a creative director like me, once oversaw a dog food commercial that scored a forty-one. She ordered dozens of balloons emblazoned with “Forty-One” and blanketed the office with them. Subtlety, like loose-fitting turtlenecks, isn't in her repertoire. And I swear I'm not just saying that because I've never scored higher than a forty (but just for the record, I've hit that number three times. It's an agency record).
“I want five creative teams on this,” Mason had said. “Have the campaigns ready for me three weeks from today. The best two will present to Gloss.”
As everyone stood up to leave, Mason had walked over to me while Cheryl took her time gathering her things and pretended not to eavesdrop.
“I need this account,” he'd said, his pale blue eyes latching onto mine.
“Is the budget that big?” I'd asked.
“No, they're cheap fucks,” he'd said cheerfully. “Name the last three clients we signed.”
“Home health care plans, orthopedic mattresses, and adult protection pads,” I'd rattled off.
“Diapers,” he'd corrected. “Ugly trend. We're becoming the incontinent old farts' agency. We need the eighteen to thirty-five demographic. Get me this account, Lindsey.” His voice had dropped, and Cheryl had stopped shuffling papers. She and I had both leaned in closer to Mason.
“I don't have to tell you what it would do for you,” Mason had said. “Think about the timing. We're presenting to Gloss right around the time of the vote. You bring in this one on top of everything else you've done . . .” His voice had trailed off.
I knew what Mason was implying. It wasn't a secret that our agency was about to decide on a new VP creative director. The VP title meant a salary hike and all the sweet side dishes that went along with it: a six-figure bonus, a fat 401(k) plan, and car service to the airport. It meant I'd be able to buy my sunny little one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, which was about to go co-op. It meant first-class flights and obscene expense accounts.
It meant success, the only thing that had really ever mattered to me.
“I'm on it,” I'd said, scurrying out of the office and diving into the world of Gloss Cosmetics.
Now I was surfacing for the first time in three weeks.
I gulped more coffee and finished scanning my ad. Something as simple as a typo could mean professional death for me, but our ad was clean. This ad was my 3:00 A.M. baby, born from the unholy alliance of too much caffeine, an entire bag of potato chips (but eaten in small handfuls, with the bag primly sealed up and put back in my pantry between handfuls), and my old reliable bedmate insomnia. Gloss wanted to steal a chunk of Cover Girl's market, but they didn't want to pay for celebrity models like Halle Berry and Keri Russell. I was giving them the best of both worlds.
Mason loved it; now I just needed to perfect my pitch to the owner and CEO of Gloss. I glanced at my watch again. Ninety-six minutes until their limo was due to pull up in front of our building. I'd be downstairs in seventy-six, waiting to greet them.
I pressed the intercom button. “Donna? Have the caterers arrived yet?”
“Don't you think I would've told you if they hadn't?” she snapped. She hates it when I second-guess her. “They bought red Concord grapes, though.”
“Shit!” I leapt up so quickly I knocked my coffee to the floor. I grabbed a handful of napkins from my top drawer and swabbed it up. “I'll run out to the deli right now—”
“Relax,” Donna said. “I already did. Green seedless grapes are in our freezer. They'll be ready in plenty of time.”
Red grapes instead of green. It's the simple things that can annihilate a career.
“Thank you,” I breathed as my heart slowed its violent thudding. I reached for one more Advil and promised myself with all the sincerity of a street junkie that it would be my last hit. At least until lunchtime.
I couldn't be too prepared. Cheryl and I had won the two chances to present our Gloss campaigns, and she was a wild card. Many of her campaigns were uninspired, but when she nailed it, she was spectacular. I was dying to sneak a peek at her storyboard, but I knew she was guarding it like a hostage. As I was mine.
Cheryl was thirty-three, four years older than me, and she worked hard. But I worked harder. I lived, breathed, and slept my job. Seriously; if I weren't so chastened by Donna's disapproving huffs when she noticed the imprint of my head on my couch cushion, I'd barely have any reason to go home at night. Even though I'd lived in New York for seven years—ever since Richards, Dunne & Krantz came recruiting at my grad school at Northwestern and made me an offer—I'd only made one real friend in the city: Matt. My job didn't leave time for anyone or anything else.
“Lindsey?” Donna's head poked into my office. “It's your mom on the phone. She said she's at the hospital.”
I snatched up the phone. Could something have happened to Dad? I knew retiring from the federal government wouldn't be good for him; he'd immediately begun waging a vicious gardening war with our next-door neighbor, Mr. Simpson. When I was home for Thanksgiving—two years ago; last year I'd missed the holiday because I had to throw together a last-minute campaign for a resort in Saint Lucia that was suffering a reservations lull—I'd had to physically stop Dad from climbing a ladder and sawing off all the branches of Simpson's trees at the exact point where they crossed over our property line.
“Oh, honey, you'll never believe it.” Mom sighed deeply. “I bought a subscription to O magazine last month, remember?”
“Ye-es,” I lied, wondering how this story could possibly end in a mad rush to the hospital to reattach Dad's forearm.
“So I bought the November issue and filled out the subscription card that comes inside,” Mom said, settling in for a cozy chat. “You know those little cards that are always falling out of magazines and making a mess on the floor? I don't know why they have to put so many of them in. I guess they think if you see enough of them you'll just go ahead and subscribe to the magazine.”
She paused thoughtfully. “But that's exactly what I did, though, so who am I to cast stones?”
“Mom.” I cradled the phone between my shoulder and ear and massaged my temples. “Is everything okay?”
Mom sighed. “I just got my first issue of O magazine today, and it's the November issue! Which, of course, I've already read.” Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper: “And so has your father, but you didn't hear it from me. That means I get only eleven issues and I've paid for twelve.”
“Lindsey?” It was Donna again. “Matt's here. Should I send him in?”
“Please,” I said, covering the mouthpiece.
Mom was still talking. “. . . almost like they're trying to trick you because they say ?Save fourteen dollars off the cover price' but if you end up with two of the same issue and you paid for them both, you're really only saving ten forty-five with tax—Dad sat right down with a paper and pencil and did the math—and—”
“Mom,” I cut in. “Are you at the hospital?”
“Yes,” Mom said.
“Um, Mom?” I said. “Why are you at the hospital?”
“I'm visiting Mrs. Magruder. Remember, she had a hip replacement? She won't be able to manage stairs for six weeks. Last time I was here I noticed the waiting room only had copies of Golf Magazine and Highlights and I thought, No sense in me having two copies of O magazine. Maybe someone else can enjoy it. And there's a recipe for low-fat cheesecake with whipped cream—the secret is applesauce, of all things—”
“Mom, I'll take care of it.” I cut her off just before the pressure in my head began boiling and shrieking like a teapot. “I'll call Oprah's office directly.”
Matt stepped into my office, one eyebrow raised. He was wearing a black blazer, which looked good with his curly dark hair. I'd have to tell him black was his color, I thought absently.
“Thank you, honey,” Mom said, sounding the tiniest bit disappointed that she couldn't milk it a bit longer. “It's so nice to have a daughter who knows the right people.”
“Tell Stedman we should go fly-fishing again sometime,” Matt stage-whispered as I made a gun out of my thumb and index finger and shot him in the chest.
“By the way, did you hear about Alex?” Mom asked.
I should've known it would be impossible for us to end our conversation without a mention of my twin sister. If she compliments me, Mom has to say something nice about Alex. Sometimes I wonder if Alex and I are as competitive as we are because Mom is so scrupulously fair in the way she treats us. Probably, I thought, feeling comforted that I could reliably blame my personal failings on my parents.
I sighed and squinted at my watch: fifty-eight minutes.
“Oprah,” Matt croaked, rolling around on my office floor and clutching his chest. “Rally your angel network. I'm seeing . . . a . . . white . . . light.”
“The TV station is expanding Alex's segments!” Mom said. “Now she'll be on Wednesdays and Fridays instead of just Fridays. Isn't that wonderful?”
When people learn I have a twin, the first thing they ask is whether we're identical. Unless, of course, they see Alex and me together, in which case their brows furrow and their eyes squint and you can almost see their brains clog with confusion as they stutter, “Twins? But . . . but . . . you look nothing alike.”
Alex and I are about as unidentical as it's possible to be. I've always thought I look like a child's drawing of a person: straight brown lines for the hair and eyebrows, eyes and nose and mouth and ears generally in the right places and in the right numbers. Nothing special; just something to pin on the refrigerator door before it's covered by grocery lists and report cards and forgotten. Whereas Alex . . . Well, there's no other word for it: she's flat-out gorgeous. Stunning. Breathtaking. Dazzling. Apparently there are a few other words for it after all.
She started modeling in high school after a talent scout approached her at a mall, and though she never made it big in New York because she's only five foot six, she gets a steady stream of jobs in our hometown of Bethesda, in suburban Washington, D.C. A few years ago, she got a part-time job for the NBC affiliate covering celebrity gossip (or “entertainment,” as she loftily calls it). For three minutes a week—six now that her appearances are being doubled—she's on camera, bantering with the movie review guys and interviewing stars who are shooting the latest political thriller film in D.C.
I know, I know, I hear you asking what she looks like. Everyone wants to know what she looks like. Alex is a redhead, but not one of those Ronald McDonald—haired ones with freckles that look splattered on by Jackson Pollock. Her long hair is a glossy, dark red, and depending on the light, it has hints of gold and caramel and chocolate. She can never walk a city block without some woman begging her for the name of her colorist. It's natural, of course. Her skin defies the redhead's law of pigmentation by tanning smoothly and easily, her almond-shaped eyes are a shade precisely between blue and green, and her nose is straight and unremarkable, the way all good, obedient little noses should be. My father can still fit into the pants he wore in high school; Alex got his metabolism. My mother hails from a long line of sturdy midwestern corn farmers; I got hers. But no bitterness here.
“I'll call Alex later and congratulate her,” I told Mom.
“Oh, and she booked the photographer for the wedding,” Mom said, winding up for another lengthy tangential chat. Alex's upcoming wedding could keep our phone lines humming for hours.
“I've got to run,” I cut her off. “Big morning. I'm going after a new account and the clients are flying in from Aspen this morning.”
“Aspen?” Mom said. “Are they skiers?”
“The really rich people don't go to Aspen to ski,” I told her. “They go to hang out with other rich people. My clients have the mansion next door to Tom Cruise's.”
“Are they movie stars?” Mom squealed. The woman does love her People magazine. And so does Dad, though he'd never admit it.
“Even better,” I said. “They're billionaires.”
I hung up and took a bite of blueberry muffin, but it tasted like dust in my mouth. It wasn't the muffin's fault; it was the unpleasant thought tugging at me like an itch. I'd told Mom about my presentation so the message would get back to Alex: You're prettier, but don't ever forget that I'm more successful. Don't get me wrong; I love my sister—she can be generous and outspoken and funny—but no one can push my buttons like Alex. Around her, I light up like a skyscraper's elevator control panel at rush hour. We're complete opposites, always have been. It's like our DNA held a meeting in the womb and divvied up the goods: I'll trade you my sex appeal strands for a double dose of organizational skills, my genes must've said. Deal, Alex's genes answered, and if you'll just sign this form relinquishing any claim to long legs, you can have my work ethic, too.
If Alex and I weren't related, we'd have absolutely nothing in common. The thing about Alex is that she doesn't just grab the spotlight, she wrestles it to the ground and straddles it and pins its hands to the floor so it has no chance of escaping. And it isn't even her fault; the spotlight wants to be dominated by her. The spotlight screams “Uncle!” the second it sees her. People are dazzled by Alex. Men send her so many drinks it's a wonder she isn't in AA; women give her quick appraising looks and memorize her outfit, vowing to buy it because if it looks even half as good on them . . . ; even cranky babies stop crying and give her gummy smiles when they see her behind them in the grocery store line.
If Alex weren't my sister, I probably wouldn't be nearly so driven. But I learned long ago that it's easy to get lost and overlooked when someone like Alex is around. In a way, she has made me who I am today.
I pushed away my muffin and glanced over at Matt. He was sprawled on my couch, one leg hooked over the armrest, half-asleep. How he always managed to stay calm amid the chaos and frenzy of our agency was a mystery. I'd have to ask him for his secret. When I had time, which I didn't right now, since I was due downstairs in forty-four minutes. Mason was letting me greet the clients, since I was presenting first, and Cheryl would get to walk them to their car afterward.
“Can we do one more run-through?” I begged.
“We did twelve yesterday,” Matt reminded me, yawning. He opened one sleepy-looking brown eye and peered up at me.
“You're right, you're right,” I said, lining up the pencils on my desk at a perfect right angle to my stapler. “I don't want to sound overrehearsed.”
“Knock it off, OCD girl,” Matt said, pulling himself up off the couch and stealing a bite of my muffin. “Mmm. How can you not be eating this?”
“I had a bowl of Advil for breakfast,” I told him. “High in fiber.”
“You're beyond help,” he said. “What time is the party tonight?”
“Seven-thirty,” I said. “Is Pam coming?”
Pam was Matt's new girlfriend. I hadn't met her yet, but I was dying to.
“Yep,” he said.
Tonight was our office holiday party.
Tonight was also the night the name of the new VP creative director would be announced.
“Nervous?” Matt asked me.
“Of course not,” I lied.
“Step away from the Advil,” Matt ordered me, slapping my hand as it instinctively went for my desk drawer. “Let's get your storyboards into the conference room. You know you're gonna kick ass, Madam Vice President.”
And just like that, the cold knot of anxiety in my stomach loosened the tiniest bit. Like I said, Matt was my only real friend at the office.
© 2010 Sarah Pekkanen
Excerpted from The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Pekkanen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for These Girls includes discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Discuss the role of work in each girl’s life. To what extent do they find a sense of identity in their jobs? How do they define success or failure in their work lives, and how does either affect the way they think about themselves? 2. Each character in These Girls seems to be facing both an internal and an external struggle. Can you identify these? Are these struggles resolved by the novel’s conclusion? 3. Did you initially empathize with Abby or Joanna? Did your feelings toward Joanna change as the novel progressed? Does the fact that Abby has an affair with a married man make her less of a sympathetic character to you? Why or why not? 4. Describe the ways that each girl interacts with and connects to other people. How are their relationship styles similar, and how are they different? 5. Given the close bond that Trey and Abby share, do you think that he should have told her what happened to their brother? Why or why not? 6. How are mother-daughter relationships depicted in this novel? Was there one dynamic in particular that you identified with? 7. After Cate reminds her mother not to call her at work, she thinks to herself, “It felt odd to be imposing such restrictions and curfews on her mother, as if they’d somehow swapped roles during the past few years” (78). To what extent is this true of all the parent-child relationships we see in These Girls? 8. What is These Girls saying about the role—and effect—of secrets in relationships? Are some secrets necessary, or are they all inherently negative? Do you agree with Abby’s assessment that “The hardest things to talk about are also the most important things to talk about?” 9. Discuss some of the challenges that Cate’s new job presents. How does she handle these? In particular, what role does gender seem to play in them? 10. Each girl sees something in another of her roommates’ disposition that she covets. What are these qualities? Is this kind of desire an essential component of female friendship? 11. In the last scene of the novel, Cate tells Trey, “I don’t want to be the girl who chose a guy over her friends.” How did you feel about their final encounter? Did you agree with how Cate handled this situation? Would you have handled it differently? 12. Ostensibly, Renee wants to lose weight because she thinks it will help her nab the beauty editor job. But does she have other reasons? What else could be driving her? 13. If you were casting the film version of These Girls, who would you pick to play each character? Why? 14. Picture where you see Cate, Renee, and Abby in five years. What do their lives look like? Share your imaginings with your group.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A heartwarming, exciting peek into 29 year old twins, seemingly opposites, but circumstances throw them back together again under their parents' roof where they make huge life discoveries, about the world and themselves. I love these "human Spirit" discoveries and I could read one after another, after another. Others I could read over and over again are: SECOND TIME AROUND, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, TIME OF MY LIFE.so many...
"It would be easy to say that in "The Opposite of Me" Sarah Pekkanen has written THE "beach read" book of 2010...except that if you start reading it now, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished and it won't ever make it to the beach....Labels such as "beach read" and chick lit" do not do this book justice. Book clubs can happily choose it as their summer read, knowing it will not only be enjoyable and on the lighter side but also with enough issues to keep a lively discussion going. Lindsay Rose has always been "the smart twin" and her sister Alex " the beautiful twin". On the brink of accepting a partnership in the New York advertising agency where she has worked relentlessly since college and been acknowledged as a rising star, Lindsay's world and future plans are destroyed in an instant. She is forced back to her hometown and back into the shadow of her exquisitely beautiful sister, Alex, who is planning her dream wedding to a handsome, rich and powerful man. In the process of examining her options and working towards healing, Lindsay discovers that life and love, are not as simple as they seem on the surface and that labels can be very wrong. The characters and situations are well drawn and believable, although it did seem that the author rushed at the ending to finish off the book. The title also gives the reader something to think about - is Lindsay the opposite of Alex, or is she herself the opposite of all that she and others have believed her to be?"
Lindsey Rose is at the top of her game. At 29, she's on the path to become the youngest VP Creative Director at her advertising firm. All she has to do is nail this top ad campaign and it's pretty much in the bag. Lindsey is convinced she has nothing to worry about. That is until an announcement blindsides her and sends her crashing on a path she never thought she would find herself on. With her career and future in shambles, Lindsey decides to leave Manhattan and return home to Maryland to live with her parents while she tries to figure out her next step. There's just one small problem: her parents aren't aware of the REAL reason she came home. She can't tell them, she thinks, as she doesn't want to disappoint them. You see, Lindsey has a twin sister Alex. Alex is the beautiful, outgoing sister and Lindsey has lived (not so comfortably) in Alex's shadow as the smart sister. Lindsey has lost her New York City apartment and status of her job, so keeping her "smart label" is all she has right now. The Opposite of Me is a story about Lindsey and Alex told through Lindsey's eyes. The reader is privileged to learn about their relationship through flashbacks and current events. Pekkanen does an amazing job with describing Alex from Lindsey's perspective, leaving the reader to form his/her own opinion about Alex. I have to admit, never once did I dislike Alex. I thought there would be more to her than what Lindsey thought she knew and I was happy to learn there was. Both sisters have lived their lives by a label that was placed on them. As adult women, both have allowed these labels (either subconsciously or consciously) to shape their lives. When the sisters share a life-altering event, they are finally able to rewrite the script for their lives. What I liked best about The Opposite of Me was I felt I was being told a story instead of reading a story. I easily pictured myself as one of Lindsey's high school friends and we bumped into each other on M Street in Georgetown. We grab lunch and catch up. Lindsey then proceeds to tell me about New York and why she's now back home. Early in the novel, I was lost in the story as the hours slipped by. I think fans of Emily Giffin will love Pekkanen's debut novel. Ms. Pekkanen is currently working on her second book. I do hope she brings back these characters in the future. Without spoiling the ending, I want to know what's next for them! Highly recommend. 4.5 Stars
My heart sank when I learned this book, yet again, revolved around twins. While I am aware my experience is just one voice, as a twin I get bored of the unrealistic potrayal some books use in their storylines. In purchasing the book, I also received a free Jennifer Weiner book in the bargain so I figured what the heck. The title Opposite of Me had also given me hope this one might be more interesing. This book is different if only it is more realistic. ALL of my friends and siblings would recognize this pair in myself and my twin. Happily, The Opposite of Me is also interesting, funny, romantic and real. The family dynamic is spot on. Best of all I was utterly, amazingly, surpised in two parts. This author could be an excellent mystery writer! The first suprise was the "humiliation" described in the front of the book. Reading the story leading up to that part I was nervous and anxious for the main character Lindsay but I thought I "knew" what was going to happen. I was so wrong and totally surpised. And not to beat a dead horse but the actual event was oh so realistic and in a odd way a nod towards fairness to women in the workplace. The second huge suprise involves around what the protaganist finds out about herself and her family and again I was way off. And again the actual story line was just the best way to take the reader. All in all I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good book. My current favorites include Elisa Lorello, Matthew Pearl, CJ Sansome, Elaine Viets and Jennifer Weiner to name just a few.
I was one of the lucky ones who received an advanced copy of Sarah's book. To say I DEVOURED it in a day and a half would be an understatement. From word one, sentence one, page one, I could not put the book down. Her hilarious writing, relatable characters and unexpected plot twists hooked me and, even more importantly, kept me hooked. I'm an avid reader, often giving up on books mid-way through when the story either fizzles or just seems to drag on. With THE OPPOSITE OF ME, I became re-excited with each chapter and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. Up until the very last page, which I was very sad to reach, I was intrigued, entertained and for lack of a better description, SUCKED IN. Kudos to Sarah for writing such an out of the gates fantastic book as a debut author. I hear People Mag is giving her 3.5/4 stars and if you haven't already heard, Jennifer Weiner has taken her under her wing. She's an author to keep following and to keep reading. As a side note, follow her on Facebook because she's freakin' hilarious.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy and LOVED it. The story paces so well, I couldn't stop reading! In fact, my husband made fun of me because I carried it with me for the three days it took me to finish, sneaking in pages here and there while I should have been doing the dishes, laundry, etc. Pekkanen does a beautiful job of showcasing the trials and tribulations of living in your sibling's shadow asks the question, can you really ever go home again? Funny but insightful as well, THE OPPOSITE OF ME should be in everyone's beach bag this summer!
Let's face it, we all measure ourselves by the yardstick of others at one time or another. The process of outgrowing the habit and coming into one's own is richly detailed in debut author Sarah Pekkanen's novel, "The Opposite of Me". What I love about this book is the way Pekkanen draws each character with a deft sense of humor, while also allowing their poignant side to shine through. From protaganist Lindsey Rose's Ikea loving parents to her gorgeous sister Alex, each character has a pulse. "The Opposite of Me" is a story to share with friends and family, book clubs and babysitters. Good for mothers and daughters as well.
The story was interesting. It shows how things can change in a blink of an eye. The characters were believable and honestly the drama was minimal. The real issue is twin sisters who have a real communication problem and who don't know who the other really is. Both are miserable in their current situations but it takes a few life changes for them to connect and bond. If you enjoy sister issues you will enjoy this book. It is a little slow in a couple of places as Lindsey excuses too much on her own perceived shortcomings. You will remain engaged.
I loved this book sarah pekkanen did a great job writing her first book. It was a little slow at first but once you get through it everything picks up and gets very interesting all sibilings can relate to the situations the book is about having to start over and learn about yourself. All woman will enjoy this book.
I was interested in this book, because we have twin girls in our family and I wanted to see how they played them out. It is a good read, however, I found that at times I wasn't too sympathetic with Lindsey as she seemed almost too obsessed with her sister Alex's physical appearance, and thought way too little of her own. I feel, tho, that Sarah Pekkanen did a relatively good job for her debut novel, and I would definately find myself buying another when she writes it. In the "Opposite of Me", she brings out the sensitivity of the mom in trying to balance the personalities of the girls from little on, and I find that is always a chalenging act in siblings, but most importantly in twins. Any multiple birth siblings find a sense of competition more intense, I think, than just normal siblings. Rivalry, as it may be, can sometimes be a good thing, but not always. It is a book that I would recommend to book clubs as there is plenty of material for thought and discussion.
I read The Opposite of Me becuase I'm a huge Jennifer Weiner fan and she had an offer I couldn't refuse--order The Opposite of Me and Jen would send a free autographed copy of one of her books for free. That's how I found this book and Sarah. When I read the book, I found it very touching because it was as though the author was channeling me and my sister and all the fights, hurt feelings and resentment we both have. The characters are well developed and the story is plausible and makes sense. I think it's a quick, easy read and really, you can't go wrong. It also reminded me that I should cut my sister some slack.
Sibling rivalry can be a great motivator for us to strive for success, but it can also be an ugly, ugly thing. In The Opposite of Me, Lindsey is so consumed by her desire to differentiate herself from her twin sister, Alex, that she can't see what it has done to the most precious relationship a woman can have. A relationship with her sister. It was painfully embarrassing to read Lindsey's jealousy on paper. She had everything going for her, but her desire to be better than Alex nearly destroyed her. Once she arrives at home and starts sorting things out and seeing Alex for who she really is, well that is when I really started enjoying the book. Seeing the both of them change and grow closer was truly wonderful. Making The Opposite of Me the perfect book for sisters, friends, and book clubs all over the world.
From My Blog...Delightfully witty and endearing, The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen is a beautiful story that will capture the reader¿s heart. Lindsey is the smart twin and Alex is the pretty twin, or that is how they were raised. Lindsey has it all as an add executive at a prestigious New York firm, until one slip-up found her without a job and returning home to her parents and her sister. Alex is a successful model, works in television and is about to be married causing all the old jealousy and inadequacies Lindsey has felt her entire life to return. The Opposite of Me is told by Lindsey in a bright, witty, and absolutely charming manner. The book starts out as a rather light and predictable read until Pekkanen takes the reader through some very serious issues with her characters and which point the novel picks up speed and intensity. I found myself truly enjoying The Opposite of Me and could not set the book down (we order takeaway) as I wanted to know what would happen to Lindsey, Cheryl, Alex, Bradley and Matt. I adored Pekkanen¿s writing style and would recommend The Opposite of Me to any reader, especially reading groups.
When we first meet Lindsey Rose, she's a panicking ad creator at a Manhattan agency, desperate to land a new account and a promotion, and not especially likable. It's hard to relate to her panic or to take it seriously when she's up against Comic Relief Cheryl's Giant Bosoms, but as soon as she leaves that world behind she's an engaging, interesting, serious, funny character, trying to figure out who she is and where she wants to be. Once you finally get to see the flawed, confused, but charming Lindsay who has more reasons to live than a job she doesn't even really like but can't easily let go of, you don't want the book to end. The plot here isn't groundbreaking, but the characters are well-drawn and compelling, and Pekkanen brings a funny touch to even the roughest moments of her characters' lives. This is a really enjoyable read, quick but not so quick that it's not satisfying, and well worth your time. If you find yourself a little put off by the Lindsey at the beginning of the book, give her time to grow on you, and you won't be disappointed.
Lindsey Rose is at the top of her game. At 29, she¿s on the path to become the youngest VP Creative Director at her advertising firm. All she has to do is nail this top ad campaign and it¿s pretty much in the bag. Lindsey is convinced she has nothing to worry about. That is until an announcement blindsides her and sends her crashing on a path she never thought she would find herself on.With her career and future in shambles, Lindsey decides to leave Manhattan and return home to Maryland to live with her parents while she tries to figure out her next step. There¿s just one small problem: her parents aren¿t aware of the REAL reason she came home. She can¿t tell them, she thinks, as she doesn¿t want to disappoint them. You see, Lindsey has a twin sister Alex. Alex is the beautiful, outgoing sister and Lindsey has lived (not so comfortably) in Alex¿s shadow as the smart sister. Lindsey has lost her New York City apartment and status of her job, so keeping her ¿smart label¿ is all she has right now.The Opposite of Me is a story about Lindsey and Alex told through Lindsey¿s eyes. The reader is privileged to learn about their relationship through flashbacks and current events. Pekkanen does an amazing job with describing Alex from Lindsey¿s perspective, leaving the reader to form his/her own opinion about Alex. I have to admit, never once did I dislike Alex. I thought there would be more to her than what Lindsey thought she knew and I was happy to learn there was.Both sisters have lived their lives by a label that was placed on them. As adult women, both have allowed these labels (either subconsciously or consciously) to shape their lives. When the sisters share a life-altering event, they are finally able to rewrite the script for their lives.What I liked best about The Opposite of Me was I felt I was being told a story instead of reading a story. I easily pictured myself as one of Lindsey¿s high school friends and we bumped into each other on M Street in Georgetown. We grab lunch and catch up. Lindsey then proceeds to tell me about New York and why she¿s now back home. Early in the novel, I was lost in the story as the hours slipped by. I think fans of Emily Giffin will love Pekkanen¿s debut novel.Ms. Pekkanen is currently working on her second book. I do hope she brings back these characters in the future. Without spoiling the ending, I want to know what¿s next for them! Highly recommend.
Labeled as chick lit, I find The Opposite of Me to be more substantial than that. There are life lessons to learn and self-reflection to consider. Ms. Pekkanen's story comes to life through human emotion and her characters' very real issues.Lindsey is the perfect heroine, in that she faces a challenge and through her own self-reflection, realizes that life is about taking chances. Through her experiences, the reader gets an accurate assessment that we all need to stop and reflect on our lives, determine our wants and needs and adjust them if necessary. We need to understand what success means to each of us. More importantly, we need to enjoy life. To quote one of my favorite movies, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it" (Ferris Bueller). Ms. Pekkanen drives home this advice through Lindsey.One of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel is the lesson in empathy Ms. Pekkanen shares with the reader. Lindsey's main problem is the fact that she never stops to consider what others are experiencing. Lindsey is very self-absorbed, which proves to be one of her main downfalls early on in the story. As she grows and learns to put herself in others' shoes, only then does she begin to move forward with her life. Again, this is a lesson we can all afford to learn.The Opposite of Me proves to be the perfect summer read. It has all of the elements - humor, heavy on relationships, romantic, a life crisis or two, soul-searching, and a happy ending. It is slightly predictable yet enjoyable and engaging. I look forward to reading future books by Ms. Pekkanen.
Started reading The Opposite of Me at 10 AM and finished it at 5:25 PM I haven't read a book in one day in a long time! I couldn't put it down. It is a story about how life isn't always what it seems. Two sisters reinvent themselves completely and are better people in the end because of changing who they are. Some of the changes are out of there control, but all has a way of working out. Pekkanen is a wonderful writer and once I started reading I had to finish the story. Make sure you ahve plenty of time if you pick up this book, you won't want to lay it down.
Loved this book! It was a wonderful story with great characters with lots going on with them. So enjoyable highly recommend reading it!
** spoiler alert ** Not your run of the mill chick-lit-beach-read novel. I've read more of those in the past year than I care to admit. It was incredibly refreshing in the approach this book took. Lindsey may have been in advertising (rather than PR or publishing) but the author actually took the time to research the world of NY Advertising to actually teach the reader a little bit about it all. And while Lindsey did chuck her life for a new one, it wasn't to live in some exotic location (unless you consider su ...more Not your run of the mill chick-lit-beach-read novel. I've read more of those in the past year than I care to admit. It was incredibly refreshing in the approach this book took. Lindsey may have been in advertising (rather than PR or publishing) but the author actually took the time to research the world of NY Advertising to actually teach the reader a little bit about it all. And while Lindsey did chuck her life for a new one, it wasn't to live in some exotic location (unless you consider suburban Washington DC exotic.) She may have moved back home with mom, but mom still lived with dad, in a kind of quirky retiree world of sales and early bird dinners.Lindsey leaves her shining career and path to VP of the ad agency all behind because of an enormous out-of-character mistake she made that sidelines her completely. So instead of being the brilliant success she's been on the glide path for, which would finally help her come out from the shadow of her gorgeous, successful, TV reporter twin sister, finds her back at home, with mom buttering her toast, and Lindsey struggling to find her feet again.What was nice for me was that Lindsey's growth and finding a new place to "be" involved not a man, or glamor, but a true journey inside herself to dust out the cobwebs and take a look around. She opens her eyes to herself, her past, her assumptions, and ultimately her future. The Lindsey of Blind Dates (the shoestring business she gets involved with after intervening for May, the owner, when her ex was threatening her) is not the same Lindsey who left NYC. That NYC Lindsey could never have had the courage to be there for beautiful Alex when her world went out of focus.Interesting to note, (and here's a real spoiler so even if the last paragraph didn't alert you, then don't read on) the diagnosis Alex had is the same one my dear friend Lindesay had (or one of them). Their pathways were different, but I found myself remembering a wonderful soul who I miss.
Lindsey has spent her entire life chasing after her dream of a successful, advertising career, even if it costs her 20 hour work days, constant headaches, and any chance at a social life. When she is suddenly fired after a moment of poor judgement at the workplace (following an unbelievably low stunt by a coworker to sabotage her), Lindsey is left without a job or an identity, and returns to her hometown to salvage her dignity and professional reputation. Returning home though, requires her to be in close contact with her fraternal twin sister, whom she has resented for years due to her flawless beauty and seemingly perfect life. As an unexpected family crisis develops, Lindsey and her twin, Alex, are forced to confront their respective identities of brains and beauty, and come to terms with the value of family versus career. This was a good chick-lit book, as it was interesting, had twists, and explored deeper philosophical issues such as values, the development of personal identity, and the meaning of work. It was a quick read as the story was fast paced and the characters were well-developed and entertaining.
If you have sister its a must read.
This book captured the agony of failure, and the poor self esteem that often accompanies it. Anyone whose ever lost a job, or felt insecure in their workplace will be able to relate to Lindsey. The sibling relationship is right-on, and the flash-backs that help the reader see how Lindsey developed her character flaws/strengths move the story along with poignant humor. Both Lindsey's (and her sister's) growth through change is uplifting. The only disappointment I had when reading it was the abrupt ending. Would have liked little more added to develop the relationship between her and the romantic leading character.
The first book I read by this author was "These Girls". And I honestly believed that there was NO WAY this book could top that one...but IT DID!!!! I cant go on enough about how much I love her writing style. She hooks you after the first page, not the first 5 chapters like a lot of books out there. If you like Jane Green and Jennifer Weiner like I do, then this book/author is for you!
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