Cover image for The opposite of me : a novel
Title:
The opposite of me : a novel
Author:
Pekkanen, Sarah.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Washington Square Press trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atria Books, [2010]

©2010
Physical Description:
377 pages ; 21 cm
Summary:
Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey's carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents' Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781439121986
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A "fresh, funny, and satisfying" ( New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner) about the complicated bonds of sisterhood.

Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey's carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents' Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In her debut novel, Pekkanen mines a familiar trope: sisters who are opposites. Lindsay is the smart, ambitious sister, a high-powered ad executive living in Manhattan. Alex is the gorgeous, charming sister, a model living near their childhood home in Washington, D.C. When Lindsay's controlled life falls apart in spectacular fashion and she's forced to move home, she uncovers some revelations that call into question the identities she and Alex have developed their whole lives. With the help of her new boss, an earth-mother type who runs a matchmaking service, Lindsay undergoes a reinvention that actually brings her closer to her true self. While Pekkanen's themes of family and identity are familiar, her fresh, appealing approach is a welcome addition to the chick-lit canon. Both sisters are fully realized flawed but likeable, and the story is at turns funny and poignant.--Walker, Aleksandra Copyright 2009 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran journalist Pekkanen debuts with a promising yet pedestrian post-chick lit novel about a successful New York ad exec who's passed over for a promotion then unceremoniously canned. Workaholic Lindsey Rose leaves Manhattan for her family's Maryland home, resuming her role as the smart, capable daughter. Years of jealousy surge into overdrive at her beautiful twin sister Alex's engagement party when she watches her lifelong friend Bradley, possibly the guy that got away, begin to fall under her sister's golden spell. After the obligatory ugly duckling makeover, Lindsey, no longer the plain daughter, continues to hide her new look from her family. Away from them, however, a newly confident and gregarious Lindsey emerges, one able to parlay her advertising skills into a new position at a matchmaking service. It takes a terrifying medical diagnosis and a visit to her parents' musty attic to complete Lindsey's transformation. Though the story is Lindsey's, Alex also plays a large part, though her selfishness is so relentlessly portrayed, it's difficult to determine just who she is. The pace is slow, and the story just adequate. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Twin sisters are forced to come to terms with their strained relationship and their respective major life changes. Lindsey, the "smart" one and advertising executive, is reeling from a catastrophic career derailment, while "pretty" Alex, the model and budding television presenter, is preparing for her wedding to a wealthy, handsome man. Fleeing the scene of her New York embarrassment, Lindsey ends up back in DC in her parents' house, with nearby Alex and the nuptials planning taking center stage. Verdict Lindsey can be a bit hard to warm up to and Alex a bit opaque and inscrutable through her sister's eyes. The plot at times stretches credulity and takes in the final chapters a sharp, fast, unexpected turn that doesn't feel entirely earned before resolving at warp speed. However, the writing is clever and the characters well-drawn. This debut novel will likely remind many readers of Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes and is recommended for Weiner's fans as well as those chick-lit devotees who enjoy Megan Crane.-Amy Watts, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

One AS I PULLED OPEN the heavy glass door of Richards, Dunne & Krantz and walked down the long hallway toward the executive offices, I noticed a light was on up ahead. Lights were never on this early. I quickened my step. The light was on in my office, I realized as I drew closer. I'd gone home around 4:00 A.M. to snatch a catnap and a shower, but I'd locked my office door. I'd checked it twice. Now someone was in there. I broke into a run, my mind spinning in panic: Had I left my storyboard out in plain view? Could someone be sabotaging the advertising campaign I'd spent weeks agonizing over, the campaign my entire future hinged on? I burst into my office just as the intruder reached for something on my desk. "Lindsey! You scared me half out of my wits!" my assistant, Donna, scolded as she paused in the act of putting a steaming container of coffee on my desk. "God, I'm sorry," I said, mentally smacking myself. If I ever ended up computer dating--which, truth be told, it was probably going to come down to one of these days--I'd have to check the ever-popular "paranoid freak" box when I listed my personality traits. I'd better buy a barricade to hold back the bachelors of New York. "I didn't expect anyone else in this early," I told Donna as my breathing slowed to normal. Note to self: Must remember to join a gym if a twenty-yard dash leaves me winded. Best not to think about how often I'll actually use the gym if I've been reminding myself to join one for the past two years. "It's a big day," Donna said, handing me the coffee. "You're amazing." I closed my gritty eyes as I took a sip and felt the liquid miracle flood my veins. "I really needed this. I didn't get much sleep." "You didn't eat breakfast either, did you?" Donna asked, hands on her hips. She stood there, all of five feet tall, looking like a rosy-cheeked, doily-knitting grandma. One who wouldn't hesitate to get up off her rocking chair and reach for her sawed-off shotgun if someone crossed her. "I'll have a big lunch," I hedged, avoiding Donna's eyes. Even after five years, I still hadn't gotten used to having an assistant, let alone one who was three decades older than me but earned a third of my salary. Donna and I both knew she wore the pants in our relationship, but the secret to our happiness was that we pretended otherwise. Kind of like my parents--Mom always deferred to Dad's authority, after she mercilessly browbeat him into taking her point of view. "I'm going to check in with the caterers now," Donna said. "Should I hold your calls this morning?" "Please," I said. "Unless it's an emergency. Or Walt from Creative--he's freaking out about the font size on the dummy ad and I need to calm him down. Or Matt. I want to do another run-through with him this morning. And let's see, who else, who else . . . Oh, anyone from Gloss Cosmetics, of course. "Oh, God, they're going to be here in"--I looked at my watch and the breath froze in my lungs--"two hours." "Hold on just a minute, missy," Donna ordered in a voice that could only be described as trouser-wearing. She bustled to her desk and returned with a blueberry muffin in a little paper bag and two Advil. "I knew you wouldn't eat, so I got extra. And you're getting a headache again, aren't you?" she asked. "It's not so bad," I lied, holding out my hand for the Advil and hoping Donna wouldn't notice I'd bitten off all my fingernails. Again. When Donna finally shut my door, I sank into my big leather chair and took another long, grateful sip of coffee. The early-morning sunlight streamed in through the windows behind me, glinting off the golden Clio Award on my desk. I ran a finger over it for luck, just like I did on every presentation day. Then I stroked it a second time. Because this wasn't an ordinary presentation day. So much more was riding on today than winning another multimillion-dollar account. If I nailed my pitch and added Gloss Cosmetics to our roster of clients . . . I squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn't finish the thought; I didn't want to jinx myself. I leapt up and walked across the room to look at my pictures of my babies, another one of my superstitious rituals on big days. One of my walls was covered with simple but expensive black frames, each showcasing a different magazine ad: a dad in a red apron barbecuing hot dogs; a preppy couple sinking their bare toes into their new carpet; a young executive reclining in her first-class airline seat. Blissfully reclining. I smiled, remembering that campaign. It had taken me two weeks and three focus groups to decide on the word blissful instead of peaceful . Yet my whole campaign was almost torpedoed at the last minute because the model I'd chosen had the exact same hairstyle as the airline owner's ex-wife, who'd convinced him that true love didn't require a prenup. If I hadn't spotted a five-dollar tub of hair gel in the makeup artist's case and begged the client for thirty more seconds, our agency would've lost a $2 million account on account of a chin-length bob. Clients were notoriously fickle, and the rule of thumb was, the richer the client, the crazier. The one I was meeting today owned half of Manhattan. I grabbed the mock-up of the magazine ad my creative team had put together for Gloss and scanned it for the millionth time, searching for nonexistent flaws. I'd spent three solid weeks agonizing over every detail of this campaign, which I'd get maybe ten minutes to present in our conference room in-- I looked at my watch and my heart skipped a beat. Unlike other ad shops, it was the culture of my agency to blur the division between the creative work and the business side of our accounts. If you wanted to succeed at Richards, Dunne & Krantz, you had to be able to do both. Of course, that also meant all the responsibility for this presentation was mine alone. The worst part, the part that gnawed at my stomach and jolted me awake at 3:00 A.M. on nights when I managed to fall asleep, was that all my work, all those marathon stale-pizza weekend sessions and midnight conference calls, might be for nothing. If the owner of Gloss rejected my ads--if something as simple as the perfume I was wearing or a splashy adjective in my copy rubbed him the wrong way--hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission for our agency would slip through my fingers like smoke. Once a Japanese tycoon who owned a chain of luxury hotels sat through a brilliant, two-months-in-the-making campaign presentation our agency's president had personally overseen--I'm talking about the kind of creative vision that would've won awards, the kinds of commercials everyone would've buzzed about--and dismissed it with a grunt, which his assistant cheerfully translated as "He doesn't like blue." That was it; no chance to tweak the color of the ad copy, just a group of stunned advertising execs with the now-useless skill of saying, " Konnichi-wa! " being herded like sheep to the exit. I gulped another Advil from the secret stash inside my desk drawer, the one Donna didn't know about, and massaged the knot in my neck with one hand while I stared at the mock-up ad my team had created for Gloss. After Gloss Cosmetics had approached our agency last month, hinting that they might jump from their current agency, our agency's president--a forty-two-year-old marketing genius named Mason, who always wore red Converse sneakers, even with his tuxedo--called our top five creative teams into his office. "Gloss wants to kick some Cover Girl ass," Mason had said, swigging from a bottle of Lipton iced tea (they were a client) and tapping his Bic pen (ditto) against the top of his oak conference table. Mason was so loyal to our clients that he once walked out of a four-star restaurant because the chef wouldn't substitute Kraft ranch for champagne-truffle dressing. "Gloss's strategy is accessible glamour," Mason had continued. "Forget the Park Avenue princesses; we're going after schoolteachers and factory girls and receptionists." His eyes had roved around the table so he could impale each of us with his stare, and I swear he hadn't blinked for close to two minutes. Mason reminded me of an alien, with his bald, lightbulb-shaped head and hooded eyes, and when he went into his blinkless trances I was convinced he was downloading data from his mother ship. My assistant, Donna, was certain he just needed a little more vitamin C; she kept badgering him to go after the Minute Maid account. "What was the recall score of Gloss's last commercial?" someone at the other end of the table had asked. It was Slutty Cheryl, boobs spilling out of her tight white shirt as she stretched to reach a Lipton from the stack in the middle of the conference table. "Can I get that for you?" Matt, our assistant art director, had offered in a voice that sounded innocent if you didn't know him well. Matt was my best friend at the office. My only real friend, actually; this place made a sadists' convention seem cozy and nurturing. "I can reach it," Cheryl had said bravely, tossing back her long chestnut hair and straining away as Matt shot me a wink. You'd think that after a few hundred meetings she'd have figured out an easier way to wet her whistle, but there she was, week after week, doing her best imitation of a Hooters girl angling for a tip. By the purest of coincidences, she always got thirsty right when she asked a question, so all eyes were on her. "Cover Girl's last commercial, the one with Queen Latifah, hit a thirty recall, and Gloss's latest scored a twelve," Mason had said without consulting any notes. He had a photographic memory, which was one reason why our clients put up with the sneakers. I could see why Gloss was testing the waters at other agencies. Twelve wasn't good. The recall score is one of the most effective tools in advertising's arsenal. It basically tells what percentage of people who watched your commercial actually remembered it. Cheryl, who's a creative director like me, once oversaw a dog food commercial that scored a forty-one. She ordered dozens of balloons emblazoned with "Forty-One" and blanketed the office with them. Subtlety, like loose-fitting turtlenecks, isn't in her repertoire. And I swear I'm not just saying that because I've never scored higher than a forty (but just for the record, I've hit that number three times. It's an agency record). "I want five creative teams on this," Mason had said. "Have the campaigns ready for me three weeks from today. The best two will present to Gloss." As everyone stood up to leave, Mason had walked over to me while Cheryl took her time gathering her things and pretended not to eavesdrop. "I need this account," he'd said, his pale blue eyes latching onto mine. "Is the budget that big?" I'd asked. "No, they're cheap fucks," he'd said cheerfully. "Name the last three clients we signed." "Home health care plans, orthopedic mattresses, and adult protection pads," I'd rattled off. "Diapers," he'd corrected. "Ugly trend. We're becoming the incontinent old farts' agency. We need the eighteen to thirty-five demographic. Get me this account, Lindsey." His voice had dropped, and Cheryl had stopped shuffling papers. She and I had both leaned in closer to Mason. "I don't have to tell you what it would do for you," Mason had said. "Think about the timing. We're presenting to Gloss right around the time of the vote. You bring in this one on top of everything else you've done . . ." His voice had trailed off. I knew what Mason was implying. It wasn't a secret that our agency was about to decide on a new VP creative director. The VP title meant a salary hike and all the sweet side dishes that went along with it: a six-figure bonus, a fat 401(k) plan, and car service to the airport. It meant I'd be able to buy my sunny little one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, which was about to go co-op. It meant first-class flights and obscene expense accounts. It meant success, the only thing that had really ever mattered to me. "I'm on it