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These Girls

These Girls

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.

Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance.

Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.

Her roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451612547 | 
  • April 2012
List Price $15.00
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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?
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About the Author

Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, and The Best of Us as well as a series of linked short stories for ereaders. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. She lives with her family, including a rescue dog and cat, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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