Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books can be found at the Butler Bookstore. Photo by Elle Rotter.
ELLE ROTTER | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Dawg-Eared” is a book review column that covers books that Bulldogs have requested including popular series, books that have been turned into movies and niche books that keep Dawgs turning the pages.
With a growing surge of popularity, and with multiple TV adaptations in the works, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are making a difference in young adult literature. Jenkins Reid takes on a feminist perspective in a majority of her books by spotlighting women in power. However, she still works to create diverse characters and ideals within each book, which is why both her male and female characters are loved by fans. Jenkins Reid’s increasing popularity began after the release of “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” when it appeared all over social media. The more people started talking about Taylor Jenkins Reid, the more she was recommended and the larger her fan base grew.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”: Most read
Finding modern love in old Hollywood, actress Evelyn Hugo kept her personal life a secret from the press until at the age of 79, when she decided to share her story with one specific journalist: Monique Grant. The book “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is advertised as a historical fiction novel, but it is so much more.
Written in 2017, but taking place throughout the mid-20th century, this novel covers topics from sexual assault and harassment to the influence of gender roles and discovering moral decision making.
English department senior lecturer Dr. Natalie Carter said that this book can give perspective to others who may not understand the societal pressures of gender and identity roles. On the other hand, this book also provides a gateway to people who may still be discovering their own identity.
“I think it’s starting the conversation about the different roles that women [have] across a variety of social positions, economic positions — however you want to fill in that blank of what makes a person a person and how they identify themselves,” Carter said. “I think it’s starting a conversation about who can be what and who can love whom in this world, and it’s always good to keep that conversation going. That’s an evolving conversation.”
Many websites including She Reads, Goodreads and MMB Book Blog rank or rate “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” the highest compared to Jenkins Reid’s other novels. However, this rating is controversial among Butler students.
Junior psychology major Neily Pennington said that “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is her favorite book by Jenkins Reid, while first-year exploratory major Ellie Rubin said that she expected more from the book because of its swarming popularity.
“I think it was a good read, but I definitely would not pick it up again,” Rubin said. “I’m happy I read it, it just — unfortunately — did not live up to the hype for me.”
Although the book was written in 2017, it sold over 500,000 copies in the year 2022 alone. This book has now sold over one million copies.
“Daisy Jones and the Six”: Most distinctive
“Daisy Jones and the Six” was published in 2019, and had a TV adaptation released on Prime Video in March 2023. With friendship, heartbreak and tragedy, the book rides along with the band who adopt the name Daisy Jones and the Six as they join together, write songs and eventually travel on tour.
Like many other books written by Jenkins Reid, “Daisy Jones and the Six” has a distinctive aspect to it. The book is written in an interview format and readers view the book from the perspectives of multiple characters. Additionally, she wrote an entire album of songs that are introduced throughout the book.
Rubin said that this provided a fresh take on how to read and write literature.
“It just felt like a whole new concept of reading and writing style,” Rubin said. “I just loved it; I flew right through it because it was just so easy to read.”
Another defining characteristic of Jenkins Reid’s books is her complex characters and her character-heavy plotline. Jenkins Reid’s four most recent books — “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” (2017), “Daisy Jones and the Six” (2019), “Malibu Rising” (2021) and “Carrie Soto is Back” (2022) — are what fans consider a part of “the celebrity series.” All of these books have overlapping characters which creates an immersive world for readers to get lost in.
Pennington claimed that her favorite part of reading books by Jenkins Reid is finding the character ‘cameos’ in each book and experiencing the collective world that she has built for her four most recent books.
“I love how she makes her own little universe, and it’s very real and immersive,” Pennington said. “I think that’s why I like her so much. That’s my favorite thing about [her books,] and that’s why I’ll always pick up whatever she releases.”
“Carrie Soto is Back”: Most niche
This book, released in 2022, covers tennis legend Carrie Soto’s journey out of retirement in hopes that she can win back her record of winning the most Grand Slam titles. Current tennis player Nicki Chan recently tied her record. Reid showcases Carrie’s battle to get back in shape, learn how to be vulnerable and accept defeat.
The tennis terminology takes a strong hold in this book and appeals to a specific audience: tennis players — or even just athletes in general. Carrie’s journey to be competitive and always win provides a realistic view into competitive sports that athletes can sympathize with. However, the terminology dominates the language in the book to the point where it may be harder to understand for readers unfamiliar with tennis.
Readers with a background in athletics like Pennington said they were able to grasp the book easier, but understood how it could have been confusing for other readers.
“I play tennis, and I think that helped because I cared a little more, but had I not, I don’t think I would have finished it,” Pennington said.
Pennington added there were pacing issues and that it was not as memorable as her other books.
“I liked [Carrie Soto is Back], but I just kind of breezed through,” Pennington said. “[It was] good but compared to her other ones it wasn’t [as good]. I gave [it] a 4 [out of 5 stars], but it went in one ear and out the other. I had a good time, but I just don’t remember a lot of the plot.”
“One True Loves”: Most emotional
When Emma Blair finds out that her husband and high school sweetheart is assumed to be dead after his helicopter goes missing somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, she finds herself absently going through the motions of life. Emma is not quick to give up hope that he may still be alive, but as months pass by she becomes heartbroken, and her parents beg her to move back in until she can recover.
Years pass by, and as Emma tries to piece herself back together, she runs into an old friend from high school, Sam, and for the first time she begins to wonder if she will fall in love again. When her husband is found to be alive, Emma not only has to untangle all of her grief but figure out who her one true love really is.
“One True Loves”, published in 2016, is one of Jenkins Reid’s older books. Even though it is not a part of the celebrity series, Pennington claimed that it was in her top three Jenkins Reid books because of the deeper emotional themes — like grief and how to regain love — that Emma grapples with.
“[The book] is kind of mom-ish, but I liked how she had to wrestle with loving her ex-boyfriend and understanding that she is a new person and that it is okay for her to move onto this new [love interest],” Pennington said.
Any Jenkins Reid book will throw its readers through an emotional roller coaster. Each book has its own unique aspect to it that will keep readers hooked until the last page. And, Taylor Jenkins Reid has a book for everyone — from historical fiction to romance to sports fiction — she has written it all.