The Girls Club: A Book Review

15 12 2012

The Girls Club by Sally Bellerose centers upon three sisters, Marie, Renee, and Cora Rose, teenagers on the cusp of womanhood who are fighting to find their way in the world and out of the projects. Guiding their way is a strong Catholic upbringing and a large, ever-present extended family. As they grow from girls to women each one goes through a painful and beautiful journey where they learn to love themselves and their sisters even if they don’t agree with them. The Girls Club capture truth about sisterhood: you may sometimes hate your sister but you will always love her, even when it is hard.

Each sister is beautifully crafted and interesting to get to know. Marie, the eldest is head strong, belligerent and rebelling against her Catholic faith. She drinks, smokes, and screws around. She is regarded with terror and awe by her peers, teachers, parents, and sisters. A powerful raging force, she is humbled by the news that she is pregnant. After the father of the baby, Fletcher, offers to pay an abortion she turns back to Catholicism for strength and her sisters for support. After Marie’s son Donny is born she is constantly wrestling with trying to do the right thing for Donny while still feeding her wild impulses. Eventually, she finds a stable partner for herself, gives up drugs and alcohol and comes to a tepid peace with Catholicism. Marie is a tour de force, whose journey into womanhood is a brutal, violent, gut wrenching transformation.

The middle sister, Renee, is graceful, beautiful, and serene. She is the type of girl everybody loves and is irritatingly put together. She decides to go to nursing school and get out of the projects. She tries to support her sisters,  she glosses over their flaws, and doesn’t look down them when they make choices that disagree with her world view. Renee presents a portrait of an easy, happy transition into womanhood. Her life is the ideal that most little girls dream about attaining. Renee is simultaneously a woman you want to be and a woman you loathe because she makes everything look effortless. Renee is often the butt of everyone’s jokes for being so virginal and nice. She is also the one that the reader and he sister’s wish they could emulate.

Cora Rose, the youngest sister is the main protagonist of The Girls Club. She is 14 at the beginning of the novel and we follow her journey from a reserved, wayward teen to her mid twenties when she finally accepts and is comfortable with who she is. Central to Cora Rose;s story are three main forces: her budding sexuality, her faith, and her ulcerative colitis (coined The Dreaded Bowel Disease by her sisters). Cora Rose struggles with what it means to be beautiful, her embarrassment over having a The Dreaded Bowel Disease, and with her feelings of sexual attraction toward other girls. Since Cora Rose is not as blunt as Marie, or as serene as Renee she has to find her own path to being self-assured. Unfortunately, after her first love moves away and she is left with a broken heart, Cora Rose tries to bury her shame and fear by having sex with the first boy who seems interested. She becomes pregnant and eventually marries the father of her baby even though she has no real feelings for him. Most of the book describes how she breaks away from her marriage and accepts the challenges of living with ulcerative colitis. As she grows up, she realizes she can’t hide her sexuality and begins going to a lesbian bar called The Girls Club. By the end of the book, Cora Rose has made a tentative peace with her demons; carved out her own identity; learned to love her sisters and not judge her self according to their standards. 

The Girls Club is frustratingly happy read. It captures the angst and heart of what it means to love yourself and love your sisters. It is about finding peace with the darkness in your life.

You can buy The Girls Club:

Connect with Sally Bellerose:




One response

15 12 2012

Thank you, Carolyn. So glad you enjoyed the book. I appreciate the review. Great blog. Happy Holidays.

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