Wednesday, February 8, 2012

YA BOOK REVIEW: Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

Sometimes it’s not a good idea to set expectations too high for a book. I wasn’t going to review Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia because I’m not sure that my reaction to it is entirely fair. But my reading/blogging has been a bit slack so I thought I should at least review some of what I've read. I loved The Lady Matador’s Hotel, a book that is not my typical reading fare but that is a superb piece of writing. When I saw Garcia was coming out with a YA novel, I got all excited. It received some wonderful reviews. It's set in the early 1970's, which is semi-historical, but in truth, for me, is more contemporary. And it was billed as being a friendship story, like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I haven’t yet read Traveling Pants but it’s been on my TBR list for a long time.

Anyway, I pre-ordered the book, I was so eager to read it. The novel centers around three wealthy (exceedingly wealthy) teens who are shipped off to summer school in Switzerland for various family/social reasons. It alternates among their points of view. Vivien is a Jewish, Cuban-American, sweet, overweight girl who wants to be a chef. Shirin is an Iranian princess, mathematically minded, and a ultra-snob. Ingrid is a Canadian rebel, party-girl, daughter of a Nazi war-criminal. Despite their differences, they are thrown together, have some boarding school adventures, and unlikely friendships ensue.

The first time I picked up the book, I read a few chapters and stopped, unable to get into the story. I couldn’t connect with the characters or their problems. But a few months down the road, I decided to give it another try. I did discover spots of lovely writing and nice insights. It’s fairly quick reading once I made up my mind to follow through. Still, I never really did come to care about the characters. Their angst-filled trials and tribulations were in some respects same-old, same-old. The only reason these girls were story-worthy was because of their fantabulous wealth and Swiss boarding school setting. And that somehow made their larger-than-life escapades seems a bit off-putting to me. Still, whenever I have this type of reaction to contemporary YA, I wonder when I turned into such a grouchy old lady.

So my verdict is: while this book didn’t live up to my expectations, I’m not exactly sure what my expectations were. I still think Garcia is a wonderful writer and I’ll be reading more of her work in the future.

This is my first book read for the Mount TBR challenge hosted by My Reader’s Block.


  1. It's a shame you didn't really like this one, as from the synopsis you provided it sounds very good.

    You have reminded me to read Travelling Pants though! I bought it just before Christmas but haven't started it yet.

  2. It is such a shame when expectations get in the way of enjoyment. Good to get another one knocked off the TBR though.