Charity Shumway's debut novel 'Ten Girls to Watch' presents a charming, witty tale

By Danica Baird

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 11 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

"TEN GIRLS TO WATCH," by Charity Shumway, Simon and Schuster, $15, 353 pages (f)

Protagonist Dawn West, a recent graduate who lives in New York, decided to turn down law school to follow her dream of being a writer. She expected to be leading a fabulous life complete with an incredible writing career and a gorgeous boyfriend.

Instead, she is the genius behind a lawn care advice column, has an ex-boyfriend that she can’t stop thinking about, and a roommate who seems incapable of paying rent. Not exactly the glamorous life she had anticipated living.

But at a chance meeting, she runs into the editor-in-chief of Charm magazine, Regina Greene. When Greene offers her the chance to track down the winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she jumps at the chance.

While the pay might not be stellar and it is only a temporary position, Dawn falls in love with the job. The women she interviewed were great college students who went on to become famous opera singers, novelists and air force pilots. These women quickly become her role models.

However, Dawn learns that as remarkable as these women are, she can’t follow in their footsteps. Instead, she realizes that she has to pave her own way. While she might not have received the perfect ending she always pictured, she is about to learn she has been blessed with the perfect beginning.

Charity Shumway, a Utah native, creates a brilliant debut novel that proves to be nothing short of charming. Shumway’s delightful novel is one that readers will cherish as they are left crying and laughing as they root for her pithy protagonist. An intriguing plot, brilliant characters, and a beautiful prose combine to create a novel that readers will adore.

Shumway took the almost clichéd plot line of a Western girl who moves to New York in the hopes of living a glamorous life and breathes new life into the story. She chose to delve passed the superficial concerns and dive into deeper issues about family, divorce, love and learning to chase dreams no matter the cost.

Shumway took her own life story and cast a fictional slant on it. While her character Dawn was born in Oregon and moved to New York, Shumway was born in Utah and moved to New York. Both wanted to be writers and both were given the chance to track down winners for a major magazine’s “Top Ten College Women” contest.

Shumway's novel contains clean language, makes no mention of violence, and only vaguely alludes to minor sexual innuendos.

If you go ...

What: Charity Shumway book signing

When: Thursday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Also ...

When: Saturday, Aug. 18, 1-3 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Gateway Crossin, 340 S. 500 West, West Bountiful

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Danica Baird is currently attending BYU and is pursuing a double-major in English and journalism and a minor in editing.

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