Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway (Washington Square Press trade paperback, 31 July 2012).
Dawn West shocked her family when she left her small hometown in Oregon to go to university in Boston, her family was surprised. They were even more surprised when, after she graduated, she moved to Brooklyn to pursue a career as a writer.
Unfortunately, it's not going so well. Her on-off relationship is off again, and her ex has a new girlfriend, although he can't quite stop seeing Dawn. Her roommate who has a dubious relationship with personal hygiene, bras, and paying rent.
At a party, she is introduced to Regina Greene, the editor-in-chief of Charm magazine, who tells Dawn to call her at the office on Monday morning. Dawn does, not sure if she'll be remembered or not, and is surprised when Regina greets her enthusastically and offers her a job.
Every year, Charm publishes an issue featuring "Ten Girls to Watch", about ten college students who show promise for the future. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the feature. Regina plans to throw a gala honoring those women and assigns Dawn to choose ten women from those 50 years to speak at the bash.
And, just-like-that, Dawn has a future.
Of course, things don't progress smoothly. Her first paycheck is so small she signs up for a drug trial to make extra money. Her roommate disappears.
But she learns she has a knack for communicating with The Girls (as she calls them). The process of contacting and winnowing takes up a good deal of the narrative, and though some readers have found that somewhat tedious, I found it fascinating.
The story of a small-town girl who moves to the big city to "make it" is not a new one, but Shumway has given it a contemporary twist. Dawn is today's iteration of Ann Marie or Mary Richards: the same, but different.
*From"Love is All Around" by Paul Williams ( theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a galley for review purposes.