Things I really, really enjoyed about Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, The Opposite of Me:
1) I’m a tough girl to surprise. I can see the end of a joke, the point of a sermon, or pick out a killer on CSI or Law and Order right from the start. But, I had no idea who the heroine of The Opposite of Me was going to end up with. There were several men naturally in her life, both newly and from old friendship, and I honestly didn’t know where Sarah was taking the story. Brava, Sarah! Being truly surprised is one of my favorite pleasures. You provided it.
2) I had complete sympathy for the heroine’s sister. In fact, I had sympathy for *everyone*, even when they were mucking things up for our heroine. Sarah didn’t villainize anyone. She didn’t need to–people doing the best they can still hurt each other. In a lesser book, the sister would have been all foil for the heroine, all contrast. But Sarah made everyone real, not just the viewpoint character. She had me caring about everyone’s happiness, and led to an ending that was indeed hopeful for all of them. Just lovely.
This is a “women’s fiction” novel with near slapstick-level farce in part one, a light “chick lit” vibe in the middle, and a serious, satisfying ending that is emotional without being at all maudlin. Does the heroine get a man at the end? Does she get a new job? Yes and yes…and she gets her relationship with her sister back, and a new, interesting version of herself.