“Girls Weekend,” by Cara Sue Achterberg
Publisher: Fiction Studio Books; May 3, 2016
Synopsis: Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls’ weekend away, they can’t bring themselves to return to lives that don’t seem to fit anymore.
Harried Dani can’t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.
Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.
Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.
All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they’d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they’re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.
GIRLS’ WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search of who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy by an author who is quickly emerging as one of our most incisive storytellers.
I just finished reading Cara Sue Achterberg’s “Girls’ Weekend” which is truly a must-read for any woman that feels she has lost her individuality or purpose outside of being a wife or mom. Dani, Charlotte, and Meg decide to take off on a girls’ weekend to Sweet Beach, just to get away for two nights. Each of them is struggling in their own way with their lives, but they don’t realize it until they get to their beach cottage and let the emotions start flowing. The weekend is full of wine, food, and talking, but when Sunday arrives and they are to return home, none of them are able to leave. Leaving their husbands and children at home and being selfish for the first time that any of them can remember, each woman stays at Sweet Beach and embarks on journeys of self-discovery. Slowly they begin looking at what is causing their unhappiness in their lives and what prompted them to stand their ground and stay at the beach house. All of them meet various people while there, impacting their lives and choices, as well as, helping them find what it is they are searching for in order to go back home.
Cheers to Cara Sue Achterberg for writing such an honest novel about the reality that just because someone’s life seems perfect, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something missing. These three friends were going through the motions each day, unhappy, but couldn’t exactly pinpoint what was causing their unhappiness. This resulted in feeling guilty over their unhappiness wondering what was wrong with them and why they couldn’t just feel lucky for the lives they have. The author reminds us in this story that it’s o.k. to not be satisfied with o.k. There is nothing wrong with wondering what happened to our individual selves separate from husbands and children. More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with deciding to make changes for own individual happiness. This novel isn’t about selfish women that just forget about their husbands and children, but about women who have had enough of just being and want to really start living. Granted it’s not realistic for most of us to take off to a beach cottage for a month to rediscover ourselves, but it certainly sounds fabulous.
As someone who spent years as a teacher but always wished I could pursue my real passions, I could really relate to Dani. Yes, as a teacher I made pretty good money, had great benefits, got snow days and time off in the summer – but it didn’t make me happy. Dani’s realizations that she wanted to revisit her passion in art resonated with me and I couldn’t stop cheering her on. It was also easy to identify with Meg who spent so much time trying to make it seem like she was o.k., that she never actually got to take the time to heal from her losses. Charlotte seemed attention starved due to her husband working or devoting all of his time to their son, but it also became evident that lack of communication between them was a major factor in their issues.
Achterberg’s writing has the ability to speak to and reach readers. Although there were times I felt things were dragging on somewhat, the novel was outstanding overall and incredibly engaging. While reading this and after you’re finished, you will feel like you’ve been spending time with your own friends sharing feelings and concerns, and realizing that someone else understands how you feel or have felt before. However, I will admit I didn’t like all of their endings. Not trying to give any spoilers, but I felt like Charlotte’s story was left up in the air, leaving the reader no idea how things turned out for her. But then again, I wonder if it was written that way to be realistic and suggest that running away for a month of soul-searching doesn’t guarantee a happy ending? “Girl’s Weekend” was an amazing read and I can’t recommend this novel enough. I look forward to reading more from Cara Sue Achterberg in the near future.
Learn more about Cara Sue Achterberg (and especially her adorable foster pups) by visiting her web page.
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.