“The Opposite of Me” by Sarah Pekkanen

Pekkanen, Sarah. The Opposite of Me: A Novel  
Simon & Schuster, 2010  
Kindle Edition: ISBN 978-1-4391-3475-7

Former journalist Pekkanen’s debut novel presents a full-life makeover. 

Lindsey Rose has spent her entire adult life climbing the corporate ladder. At age 29 she’s on the brink of a big promotion at her high-level ad agency in Manhattan when a sexier colleague wrests away the position by using her feminine charms to land a huge account. When a moment of indiscretion with a male colleague gets Lindsey fired, she flees, hurt and humiliated, to her parents’ home in Maryland. When she arrives, Lindsey finds her fraternal twin sister, the beautiful model Alex, in the midst of planning a wedding to her wealthy and handsome Prince Charming. 

Because Alex is the pretty sister, Lindsey has relentlessly worked since childhood to make herself the smart sister, and this reunion opens up that old competitive wound. But predictably, away from the corporate world Lindsey begins to recognize and appreciate aspects of herself that she had suppressed in her career pursuit. When she can’t line up another ad agency job, she signs on to work for a local woman who provides personal matchmaking services to clients, a position that allows Lindsey gradually to retire her power suits and begin to cultivate a more relaxed personal style and flair. 

I am definitely in the minority in my reaction to this novel, which has received a lot of glowing reviews. Despite the book’s stylistically polished prose, I find it mired in clichés and stereotypes. While Lindsey undergoes a huge personal and professional makeover, the other characters serve only as props in her drama. Her parents never rise above the stereotype of an old retired couple who constantly bicker over the monotonous details of their lives. Alex remains an airhead, even in the face of a medical crisis. And the long-suppressed family secret that Lindsey discovers among old papers in the attic turns out to be an anti-climax. 

Lindsey’s spunky sense of humor and breezy, conversational narrative pull the reader through the story but, finally, can’t compensate for the novel’s lack of depth. 

© 2012 by Mary Daniels Brown

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