Last summer I picked up my first Gemma Burgess novel–A Girl Like You–and read it in under a week. It became one of my favorite books I read in 2013 (and probably the past few years). Over the next couple of months, I read Burgess’s other two novels: The Dating Detox and Brooklyn Girls. Then in February, the sequel to Brooklyn Girls, Love and Chaos, was released. By a stroke of birthday luck, I won a copy of Love and Chaos from Burgess on Twitter. I quickly read the sequel and now, months later, I’m (still) eagerly anticipating the third installment of Burgess’s Brooklyn Girls series, The Wild One. However, I would settle for any novel written by Burgess. In less than a year, she became one of my favorite authors. So, in an effort to convert everyone over to the Burgess fan club, I’ve boiled down a list of reasons to read her novels to a few important points.
As anyone who has ever spent any real time with me can attest, I like most things in my life to be progressive–especially my pop culture. That means: pro-feminist leanings and well-developed female characters. In Burgess’s novels you won’t find any passive women–unless that’s part of their character development. You will, however, find female characters with agency, strengths, fears, doubts, confidence, and wardrobes that will make you jealous. If you’re a lady and you’re looking for books–either standalone novels or series–that will leave you feeling empowered, Burgess’s works are perfect. After following the author on Twitter for a few months, it’s not hard to see that she herself is constantly questioning the way in which women are portrayed in the media. For instance, check out a recent tweet of hers:
Burgess writes about modern women, and the majority of modern women tend to have somewhat progressive leanings–whether they identify as feminist or not. There are no tired notions of women or romance in her books, unless she’s making a point of tearing down those ideas.
Have you noticed there’s a huge gap in the book world between young adult and adult books? In the past few years, a new genre emerged designed to fill that gap: new adult. It’s a category aimed at college students, recent graduates, and twenty-somethings dealing with issues relevant to people in that age group: student loans, finding a job, starting a career, moving out on their own, etc. Although Burgess’s first two novels, A Girl Like You and The Dating Detox, don’t fall into the new adult genre, her Brooklyn Girls series fits perfectly. In the first Brooklyn Girls novel, Pia struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life and how to build a career around her passion once she does work it out. In Love and Chaos, Angie endeavors to stop running away from her problems and face them head on, all while trying to break into the fashion world of New York City. Even if you don’t share Pia’s passion for food or Angie’s love of fashion, it’s not hard to identify with these girls–especially if you’re living in or around a city and trying to compel your own life to make sense.
In a previous post about my 5 Favorite Chick Lit Authors, I wrote about how chick lit doesn’t just deal with romance; it discusses everything going on in a woman’s life. That includes–but is not limited to–romance. What I particularly enjoy about chick lit is that most books will include romance, on top of a storyline concerning the main character’s career, as well as her relationships with her family and friends. There seems to be a preconceived notion that women only want to read about romance, but I’ve found that, more often than not, that just isn’t true. My favorite chick lit novels spend just as much time dealing with friendships and familial relationships as romantic liaisons, which, let’s be honest, is much more realistic. Real women’s lives are just as much about work and friendships and family as they are about romance, and it’s nice to read books that reflect real life. Burgess obviously strives to write her novels as true to life as possible, and it’s something readers will notice as they page through her books.
I will stick with any movie, television show, or book so long as I like the characters–even if I only like one character, I’ll stick it out. Thankfully, though, every single character in Burgess’s novels are likeable and well-developed. Of course, it was the main characters that drew me in to every story. Each girl–Abigail, Sass, Pia, and Angie–is a realistic mix of hilarious, self-assured, and slightly-insecure that will ring true to anyone reading these books. However, it’s not just the leading ladies that I love; the rest of the cast of characters tend to be just as colorful and multidimensional as the leads. As I read a Gemma Burgess novel, I tend to fall just as much in love with the romantic interests, as well as find myself wishing I could hang out with the main character’s friends. While I continue to read each of Burgess’s novels for the other reasons on this list, it’s the characters that assure each book becomes one of my favorites.
If you’re still on the fence about checking out one of Burgess’s novels (how is that even possible after my amazing arguments??), you could try watching this (unfortunately) fake trailer for her first novel, The Dating Detox.
On the other hand, if I have officially converted you to the Gemma Burgess bandwagon, then we can excitedly await the release of her next novel, The Wild One (Brooklyn Girls #3), which will hopefully be out some time this spring–however, an official release date has yet to be announced.