In the heyday of Chick Lit (Bridget Jones, I’m looking at you) it was easy to scan the shelves and pick out the pastel covers that held yet another story of fashionable girl meets boy; girl acts crazy and almost loses boy to someone taller, thinner, richer; girl finally gets diamond ring; the end. As I got a little older and my life changed, I realized that I was not so much interested in 20-something dating stories anymore, but I do still like novels that give me a view into women’s lives.
For fans of The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close offers a similar style; in linked stories that follow Isabella, Mary, and Lauren through the 10 years after college graduation, Close explores the growing pains and peculiar rites of early adulthood. The three friends and their acquaintances attend endless bridal showers and weddings and try to maneuver new jobs, new family roles, and yes, even the occasional romance in their search for identity. Read this while you are waiting for the next episode of HBO's new show Girls.
On the other hand, Elissa Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls, while following a similar format of linked short stories, has a less Chick Lit vibe, garnering comparison to more literary writers like Lorrie Moore and Maile Meloy. Schappell’s stories are edgier, a little darker, exploring the choices her women and girls make, often with consequences harsher than those faced by Close’s trio. From teens to motherhood, Schappell connects with women at various stages of life whose lives have taken a slight turn off the straight and narrow path.