Weiner’s sequel to her debut novel (Good in Bed, 2001) revisits that book’s heroine 13 years later.
When readers first met Candace “Cannie” Shapiro, she was 28, overweight and single. Still feisty as ever, Candace is now wife to beloved Peter and mother to 13-year-old daughter Joy. The chapters alternate, sometimes jerkily, between Candace’s and Joy’s points of view. Joy, a typical teenager, is embarrassed by her mother, and Candace worries about her changing relationship with her daughter. Above all, Candace tries to protect Joy and herself from her painful past, very publicly chronicled in her accidental bestseller, Big Girls Don’t Cry, a highly sexualized fictional account of Candace’s life. After Joy reads the book, she questions who her true family is, and whether her mother ever wanted her. At times Weiner tries too hard to be witty, and Joy sounds too much like Candace. Still, the narrative is often heartfelt and funny, and, while the plot occasionally meanders, there are surprisingly raw emotional elements at play and some nifty plot twists. As the story unfolds, Joy goes looking for her maternal grandfather and Candace and Peter search for a surrogate for a second child—and Weiner proves she isn’t afraid to tackle the complexities of love, fear and grief.
A touching examination of both the comic and tragic moments that mark the mother-daughter relationship.