Mrs. Everything (Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition)

Mrs. Everything (Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition)

by Jennifer Weiner

Hardcover(Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition)

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Overview

This Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition contains a personal essay from Jennifer Weiner, as well as a discussion guide.

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982131791
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Edition description: Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 1,678
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and her memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.

Hometown:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

March 28, 1970

Place of Birth:

De Ridder, Louisiana

Education:

B.A., Princeton University, 1991

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Mrs. Everything includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Jo and Bethie are very different people. But in what ways do you find them similar? Do their similarities outweigh their differences? How do their similarities cause problems in their relationship?

2. Forgiveness, of others and of the characters’ own selves, is an important theme in the novel. Discuss how the characters work through their conflicts and how they do or do not resolve the issues.

3. Compare and contrast how Jo and Bethie are influenced by their mother. Is there a defining element of their relationship with their mother? How does it weave its way into the sisters’ lives?

4. Mrs. Everything spans half of the twentieth century and the early part of the twenty-first. What period details make you feel immersed in each decade? Were there any details that you remembered from your own past? Were there details about life in earlier decades that surprised you? What effect did this have on your reading experience?

5. In Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner has created many memorable secondary characters, from Mrs. Kaufman to Lila to Jo’s and Bethie’s partners and beyond. Did you have a favorite? What qualities made them come alive for you?

6. Were you ever frustrated by the choices Jo and Bethie made? Did you empathize with their choices, despite feeling frustrated?

7. Literature is full of sisters with complex relationships. Do Jo and Bethie remind you of other favorite sister duos? What is it about the sister relationship that captivates us as readers?

8. What draws Jo and Shelley together? After they’ve reunited, what keeps them together?

9. What do Bethie and Harold learn from each other throughout their relationship?

10. Because Mrs. Everything takes places over several decades, it touches on many political and social movements. Did you learn anything about American history while reading? Was there a cause or issue that particularly interested you?

11. When Lila visits Bethie for the summer, they have a heart-to-heart about the pressure Lila feels from her mother to be special and achieve great things. Bethie tells Lila that it comes from the lack of options the sisters had growing up in a different era: “Some girls did grow up and became doctors and lawyers and school principals. . . . A few girls did grow up and do things, and got those jobs, but for the rest of us, we were told that the most important thing was to be married, and be a mother. . . . She just doesn’t want that to be the only choice you have” (page 392). Though Lila does have more opportunities available to her than her mother and aunt did, she (and her generation) faces new challenges. Did you relate to Lila’s concerns?

12. How does faith—both religious and in a more general sense—inform Jo and Bethie? What does faith mean to the sisters?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. If your group hasn’t already read Jennifer Weiner’s novel In Her Shoes, consider reading it together and comparing its themes of sisterhood with those of Mrs. Everything. What similarities do you notice between the sisters in these two novels? What ideas and feelings does Jennifer Weiner explore in both?

2. Choose one of the eras from the novel and come to your book club dressed in clothes or donning fun accessories from the period. Pick a film set in that same decade and discuss how the director and Jennifer Weiner each evoke that moment in history.

3. Visit Jennifer Weiner’s website at www.jenniferweiner.com to learn more about her and her books, and follow her on Twitter @jenniferweiner.

Customer Reviews

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Mrs. Everything 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Too much going on to care about one person. Kinda like other people have said. All of the social issues in one book.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I found myself caring very little for the characters portrayed in this book. The author stuffed way too many injustices into the story and with such little athenticity, that I actually got bored. Plight of the jews, the blacks, the gays and women...check, it's in there. Sexual abuse, sexual harrassment, adultery, drug addiction...check, it's in there. It's as if the author made a list of all the current headlines and created a story that included them all so she could maximize her readership, not maximize the depth of her characters. Ms. Weiner, next time write a story with a clear focus and emotional draw. This book didn't make me laugh. This book didn't make me cry. This book didn't make me feel anything but bored and frustrated. By the way, I am a jewish woman from the east coast who grew up in the 70's with 3 sisters and I still couldn't relate to anything beyond the first few chapters.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Dreary, preachy, not a good read. Characters are not likable.
AnitaG 10 months ago
Books with long sweeping timelines can always pull me in. The length alone tells me I’m going to get to really know these characters, not just a small snippet of their lives. Jennifer Weiner tells the story of Jo and Bethie, young girls when we meet them in the 1950’s, and how two sisters raised in the same Jewish home, in a nice Jewish suburb of Detroit can be very different. Bethie is the younger of the sisters, and she is everything her mother could wish for, pretty, talented, obedient. Jo is challenging, questioning, and her own person. Her mother struggles understanding her, and her father is the one who comes in to smooth things over, to take her away from that pain. Jo knows she is different, Jo knows that she is what her own mother calls “unnatural”, Jo likes girls. Being gay in the 50’s, 60’s and on wasn’t easy. Jo battles this desire most of her life. Weiner lets history take Jo and Bethie along for the ride in a turbulent 60’s and 70’s, Coming of age in a time of political and social turmoil, the choices each of them make is paramount to where they end up later in life. The book follows along as the sisters leave college, take other paths and age. Nothing is lost on the fact that it ends taking note of the 2016 election and the beginning of the #metoo movement, pivotal times for women’s rights. Just as sisters do in real life, they are best friends and worst enemies, they are brutally honest and hurt each other, yet they are also there to save one another. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. The characters are the same age as my own sisters, two very different women just as Weiner’s sisters are. I thought of them so much while I read this. I also thought of my daughter, a gay woman who has been able to be herself, out and honest since her teen years. I know how lucky she is but also how judgmental and ignorant so many people still are of her, and all people or aren’t like them. Reading Mrs. Everything is an emotional journey, one of wanting to reach out and comfort the characters, wanting to slap others who didn’t step in to help, and also cheering Jo and Bethie on. I have read most of Jennifer Weiner’s books and I believe this to be her best work yet. She has created a story that will grab you, turning pages, longing to know more, invested in the characters and crying when the last page is read. Thank you again to Net Galley and Atria books for an early copy, and thank you always to Jennifer Weiner for sharing your words. Here is a link to an article Jennifer Weiner wrote for the NY Times about writing this book for her mother.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I kept reading hoping it would get more interesting but, alas, it doesn't. Repetitive, preachy, in need of a good editor.
Piney10 10 months ago
3.25. I read a lot of reviews that raved about this book. I found this book very shallow, simplistic, and hard to connect with. A lot of nostalgia for the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. but that was the high point. The plot of the novel was well intentioned and if it had more depth and reality to it, it might have made it more likeable for me.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I found this book full of social issues that characters fully reflect in an authentic fashion. Brilliant weavings of people & time.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Great story, kept my interest. With all the crazy stuff going on in the world, this book was both a comparison of like issues and a way to escape them
Aqswr 8 months ago
Author Jennifer Weiner has written a book about women in the 20th Century with all of their struggles and successes, on political, personal and social levels. Mostly, this is a tale of Baby Boom girls/women and their lives. It is a huge canvas for a writer best known for her skill at finding the intimate details in any setting that almost any reader can immediately identify with and share. She doesn’t always succeed in creating a viable story around both of the sisters serving as protagonists in MRS. EVERYTHING but she does very well with one of them, the eldest, Jo. The younger sister, Bethie, is too often an afterthought and used as a filler for all of the Baby Boom activities that Jo has not experienced. I’m a big fan of the author but this book wasn’t my favorite, although I struggle to identify why. There are many unlikable characters that don’t grow better over time. Changes that do occur over time seem useful for the plot but unlikely. I kept reading the book hoping I would like it more because it seemed so perfect for me. I keep thinking my age and having experienced some part of the Baby Boom years is causing me to struggle with this book. I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
paulalala09 10 months ago
Mrs. Everything creates a fantastic story built around the tumultuous ‘60s and continuing up to the present. If you lived through those years, the story rings so true to the time and to the struggles of women in a time when changes were erupting daily. If you did not live it, Mrs. Everything is such a great tribute to that time and will transport you to a day of constraint vs. freedom for women. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Noire 10 months ago
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is a woman’s fiction story of two sisters Jo and Bethie Kaufman that follows the arc of their lives from the 1950’s to the present. The sisters would be about 10 years older than I am so much of what they experience over the course of the story is familiar to me. I had high expectations for this book as I enjoy Jennifer Weiner’s books enough that I have re-read several of them however I could not connect with any of the characters and while I found Jo to be the most sympathetic, I found her later passiveness to be disconcerting, that her strong and bright character up until she graduated from college became a shadow of her former self for much of the book was a disappointment. The main emotion that I took away from the book was guilt felt by the various characters, guilt about not being the daughter her mother wanted, guilt about her sexuality, guilt about not looking after her sister, guilt about not loving her husband, guilt about not being a good mother, guilt about believing she ruined her sisters life, guilt about not believing her sister when she asked for help, it carries on through the generations of women in the book creating a pall over the story and while I have felt many of the same feelings I found reading about them in characters I couldn’t relate to be more annoying than anything else. Publishing Date June 11, 2019 #NetGalley #SimonandSchusterCanada #AtriaBooks
Anonymous 2 days ago
Writing seems to be fairly well done, but there are too many social issues of which several are unsettling. Only read Part 1 and decided that was enough.
Anonymous 6 days ago
I thought this book was excellent! Jennifer Weiner does it again! The Detroit and Ann Arbor depictions were spot on. I loved how the family dynamic was portrayed through the generations and how history repeats itself. So sorry to those of you who did not like or didn't give it a chance - It kept me reading right to the end.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Repetative i expected a good read since this was a B&N book club pick. You could tell what was going to happen next its like the author gave no effort.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Loved this story of sisterhood.
Anonymous 6 months ago
So disappointed. I have read all of her books. This one was not good. Characters are awful. I didn’t care about any of them. I am a big reader (around 60-80) books a year. This one I only read 150 pages of any finally quit reading it. I hate to buy a book and not read it, but this was awful. Don’t buy
JamieS 6 months ago
Bethie and Jo are sisters and are different as can be. Jo is a to boy and Bethie is all girl. The death of their fathers sets each of them on paths that are not what their mother chose for them. during the book we see the consequences of their choices and at times I was frustrated with them both and other times was rooting for them. Jo has three girls of her own and the dynamic between her and the girls and the girls with each other is reminiscent of their younger days. I enjoyed the book and was determined to find out how their lives turned out. There were times I was skimming because I felt like it was too wordy and thought stick to the story. I would recommend this if you like family dynamics, its a good beach read.
Anonymous 6 months ago
SunnyCarolinaGirl 6 months ago
Jo and Bethie are about as different as two sisters can be. This book begins in the present, and then goes back to their childhood all the way back to today and into the future. This book covers so many topics from equal rights to drug use, marriage and children, love and disappointment. It was very in depth and well written. I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Atria Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
JYoung 6 months ago
I loved this book! It is an sweeping tale of two sisters and all of the ups and downs (and yes, there are a lot of downs) in their lives. Good in Bed is one of my favorite books ever, but I haven't loved a Jennifer Weiner book as much since that one. Until now. The writing is beautiful, and I couldn't put it down. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advanced copy of this book.
Bookish_Anki 7 months ago
Thank you Atria Books for my free reviewer copy. "We Loose ourselves, but we find our way back" Mrs. Everything is my new favorite book of 2019. I absolutely loved this book.This is my first book by her. I strongly recommend you to pick this up like right now if you haven't already. You will love it. It takes us on this beautiful journey of two sister Jo & Bethie from childhood to their present lives; through all their hardships, sexual abuse, marriage, career. No matter what they went through, they always stood by each other like a rock & though they think they know what they want to achieve in life, life wasn't going to be easy as they thought it will be. Faced with unfortunate, traumatic incidents, heartbreaks they have nothing but each other. I love family sagas which stresses on the fact that family can get you through anything such is the strength of their bond. I love Jennifer's writing style, I had goosebumps while reading this, it felt as if I was witnessing their entire life unfold before me. Jennifer also reflects on the issues women faced back then(some of which still exist today) & as the sisters go through with it finding their way, its never to late to go for what your heart desires.
smweston 7 months ago
Mrs. Everything is about being a sister, a daughter, a mother, and a woman. It's about how far women have come and how far we still have to go. It's a novel about finding yourself and the ways in which we fail other women, but have to pick up and try to do better. It's about how to balance what we want with what society expects and figure out our identity for ourselves. I don't feel that I can write an adequate review for this book. It's a bit outside of my comfort zone and I don't feel like I can compare it to other books I have read. The writing is just as exquisite as I would expect of any Jennifer Weiner book and it touched on so many important topics in such meaningful ways. Did I feel very connected to it? No. Is it powerful and moving? Yes It initially was hard for me to get into because I was sitting there wondering what kind of point this book would try to make, but by the end I was crying. I think this is the kind of book that will be even more powerful to reread and I highly encourage you to pick it up. Content warning for sexual assault, rape, abortion, eating disorder, loss of a parent, and drug abuse. Thanks to Atria and Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This beautiful book by Jennifer Weiner will be published on June 11! Thank you so much to @netgalley and @atriabooks for the ARC.⁣ ⁣ This story follows the lives of sisters Bethie and Jo through childhood in the 1950s through late adulthood, allowing the reader a unique lens through which to understand development and cultural shifts. The women grapple with racism, sexuality, and male power, and exhibit wonderfully the lifelong pursuit of balancing education, self-care, socialization, and raising a family. ⁣ ⁣ I adored this method of story-telling because I felt like I was intimately close with the sisters. Their extended family represented a typical American family - some pursuing money, some pursuing passions, some with nefarious motives but are respected because they’re family, some struggling throughout life to identify their path. The imperfections of these characters is what made the story real and raw. ⁣ ⁣
Dianne57 8 months ago
I have to say what a downer this book was. If there was a situation filled with angst, it was in this book. Considering that this book spanned seven decades and some of them the most tumultuous in history, it is no wonder that I found myself deeply depressed while reading it! However, because I lived through a lot of these historical events, I found myself unable to put this book down. This book, in my opinion, will be perfect for book clubs filled with people of a certain age, younger people who like to learn about modern history from the perspective of the generation who lived it, women (since this book was filled with women's issues) and the Lesbian community. This book dealt with issues such as -bigotry, racial matters, political unrest, Lesbian issues, rape, drug addiction, cancer, early death, teenage angst, and so much more. There was very little to make you smile in this book, but a lot that will make you think and remember what life was like back then and really, still is.
JHSEsq 8 months ago
Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner says she has been thinking about the story of Mrs. Everything "for a really long time." She always knew that she wanted to pen a historical novel with "a lot of sweep and a lot of heft that would cover not just women in the present, but would cover generations. That started to feel a lot more urgent after the 2016 election and rise of the MeToo movement." Her goal was to explore "the story of women in America -- where we've been, where we've gotten and, as the mother of daughters, where we still need to go." With Mrs. Everything, Weiner has achieved her goal in entertaining and absorbing fashion. Mrs. Everything is a saga that plays out across more than six decades and examines the journeys of two sisters who are, of course, total opposites. Bethie is pretty, feminine, and loves to be in the spotlight. She learns at an early age how to get what she wants from boys using her female charms. In contrast, Jo is athletic, political, and although she, like Bethie, has boyfriends, they don't interest her much. At an early age she discovers why, painfully aware that she will always have to keep her desires secret, hidden away from a society that won't accept her as she is. Jo is a constant source of exasperation to their long-suffering Jewish mother, Sarah. When their father dies suddenly, Sarah is forced to take a job in the local department store to support the family. Jo feels their father's absence acutely and it strains her relationship with Sarah further since he ran interference between the two of them. But both girls step up to assist with Jo taking a job as a camp counselor while Bethie signs on to perform household tasks in their uncle's home after school. A horrific event forever alters the course of both of their lives. Jo comes to Bethie's aid, scuttling her plan to travel abroad with her girlfriend when she uses the money she had saved to help Bethie. Shattered, and so unsure of who she has become or what the future holds for her, Bethie wanders the country and eventually ends up living on a commune, while Jo decides that convention is the safest route. Through the years, the girls' lives are beset by molestation by a relative, gang rape, abortion, an eating disorder, drug use, sexual harassment in the workplace, a shocking betrayal by a friend and spouse, and cancer, all against the backdrop of sociological changes. including the sexual revolution, women's liberation, and the fight for reproductive and civil rights. Weiner's portrayal of the sibling relationship is believable. Typical of sisters, they go through periods when they barely communicate with or see each other, but remain bound together in the mysterious, inexplicable way that only sisters can be. They harbor grudges, resentments, and anger. At one point Bethie exclaims to Jo, "You think that I ruined your life? Well, I think you ruined mine." They confound each other. But they also come together when one needs the other, their loyalty forceful and, ultimately, unbreakable. Both characters are fully drawn and empathetic -- deeply flawed and aggravating, but also endearing. Just like members of one's own family. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, compelling, and unsparing look at sexism, stereotypes, conventional roles, and women's ongoing drive for the freedom to unashamedly be true to their own spirits.