Cover Image: Being Mary Bennet

Being Mary Bennet

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Member Reviews

Bookish, judgy yet hilarious Marnie Barnes has come to the inescapable conclusion she is stick-in-the-mud Mary Bennett in the narrative of her life rather than spirited Lizzy (like her older sister) and vows to excise all the boring Mary bits in order to garner the attention of her family and a lifelong crush. With the help of her outgoing boarding school roommate, Marnie socializes more and throws herself into organizing a project to win an important school prize. But for every step forward, there are two steps back — including vacillating between the much older (and unworthy) crush and a dreamy, new love interest staring her right in the face. Through all the missteps (there are plenty), Marnie maintains her often wicked sense of humor and reveals an aching vulnerability beneath her guarded heart.  Set in an exquisitely rendered City by the Bay, debut novelist JC Peterson has created an absolutely delightful spin on the Jane Austen classic that made me fall in love with not only Marnie Barnes but also Mary Bennett! Highly recommended.
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(eARC provided by Netgalley) 

Confession and disclaimer: I've never read Pride and Prejudice. It wasn't until I was about a third of the way through Being Mary Bennet that I realized, "Oh, Mary Bennett is that sister from that movie that looked like it was filmed on an early 2000s camcorder!" And it wasn't until some time after that that I remembered that Pride and Prejudice is the book that begins with that wonderful line about truths being universally acknowledged. All this to say, I can't offer much insight into whether or not Being Mary Bennet is a game-changing contribution to the Jane Austen Cinematic Universe. That said...

I can tell you that this book is character development done right. Marnie Barnes starts out as a genuinely unlikeable narrator (no, not just charmingly quirky— patently unlikeable ). Yet by the end of the book, I found myself cheering for her. I love that, instead of being changed by the world around her, Marnie actively chooses to reflect on herself throughout her story. I also love that said reflection doesn't culminate in an outright rejection of her "old self," but rather the initiation of an ongoing learning process that evolves with Marnie herself.

And I like that there are dogs. Lots of dogs. And also an iguana? 5/5 stars
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I did not expect to cry while reading this book and I cried like 4 times. It was cathartic and spoke to my inner teenager. I loved this book. It's heartfelt and touches on really hard subjects in sensitive ways without shying away from how difficult life can be. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether you're 17 or 27 I think this book is a great read and can remind you of how difficult communication can be and just how important it is to reach out to our loved ones and make space for their peculiarities.
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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I found the main character of this book slightly annoying, but overall, I still enjoyed the book.
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We all want to see a bit of who we are in the books we read. The main character might be a strong fighter who doesn't take anyones bull. Or it's the girl that just went through a brake up, but already has her soon to be boyfriend knocking on her door the next day. But sometimes there's the leads that we think "man I'll never be like them no matter what I do." So then we think maybe I'm the best friend or the nerdy kid they mention or someone points out how we are similar to a character we hate. That's how Marnie Barnes feels about her own life. With a play on Pride and Prejudice J.C Peterson takes us through the journey of one girl who doesn't think she can be the lead in her own life. Similar to Mary in PandP Marnie thinks no one notices her and that she has to compete with her four sisters to get her fathers attention. Determine to win the same award that put her sister Lindy on the map, Marnie has to step out of her comfort zone and discover things that turn this once background character into the star of her own life. Filled with classic literature reference, cute animals and cute boys you won't want to miss where this story takes our lead character. 

This is perfect for those who don't feel like a leading character, but hopes to be one.  We all are leading people in our lives so may this book help you see that, I know it reminded me that though my life may not look like someone else's it still is just as wonderful and that people do see that even if you might not.
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I couldn’t get through this one. Mary is a whiny, I likable character, who changes her personality for a guy who is in a commuted relationship. I was appalled by the characters, and I would not recommend.
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I LOVED THIS SO MUCH! The writing is so smart and clever and tight and the whole story is just so rich. Marnie is a wonderfully complex character—prickly! sensitive! annoyed (and for good reason most of the time)! kind of a jerk sometimes! passionate, determined, smart! and lonely. In other words, a true teenager. Also: swooning over Whit forever. Also: such a great friendship storyline. Also: San Francisco. Also: dogs. I can't wait to read Lola's story next!
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I’m not going to give this a rating since I dnfed it. It was just a little  too slow for me and I couldn’t get into it. I like the idea though so I might give it another shot some day.
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Wow! I loved this book! A definite must read. Marnie is afraid and so hides in beloved books. She’s afraid of being Mary Bennett who is forgotten and overlooked. When her roommate calls her a Mary, Marnie becomes determined to leave Mary Bennett behind. She is determined to change and through that determination she learns more about herself, makes new friends, understands her sisters better, and has a chance at romance. What a delightful book this is.
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A fine enough rendition of the Bennet family. It's a a little predictable and I was a bit bored, but I'm sure the target YA audience will find a lot to enjoy about Marnie and her friends.
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Why have i never given more thought to Mary Bennet? It is true that while most of us want to be a Lizzie Bennet, we are normally one of the other sisters. I loved how Marnie found her own strength to be more than just the "Mary" of her story.
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Marnie finds herself at odds with everyone just about all of the time. She has a likable, bookish personality, but she just can’t seem to fit in wherever she goes. She’s forgotten by her family, and she struggles to find friends at school. As Marnie sets out to conquer her academic goals, she also has the self awareness to work to overcome her struggles. 

I liked seeing Marnie push herself and figure things out. I don’t think I’ve read a YA novel recently, or at all, where the protagonist is quite so self aware about her own problems, and then sets out to fix them in a healthy manner. We aren’t talking glow ups (no shame to glow ups, as those can be quite fun) but true personal growth. This didn’t feel like a self help book, but I do think it’s capable of inspiring younger readers to be reflective as well. This is a more peaceful read—there aren’t crazy conflicts or breathtaking twists. But if you want some cute nods to classic Brit lit and a cozy, tea and a blanket type book, this one is for you.
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Being Mary Bennet by J.C. Peterson is a delightful look at a young woman who thinks of herself as the Mary Bennet of her distinguished family- overlooked, odd, and utterly outside the pale.  Her father is a world-famous tech magnate, her mother a society matron, her older sisters top in their fields, her younger sisters seem to have all the fun - Marnie has always felt as if her entire family barely remembers she exists.  However, she has a plan to change all that by winning the Hunt Prize at her boarding school- the very same prize her older sister Lindy won years ago - which guarantees acceptance to any college of her choice and gives Marnie a chance to show the world her true self.  But what if Marnie is all wrong about who she really is?

This book was charming.  The dialogue was witty, the plot well-paced, and the characterization was strong for most characters.  I felt the romance was a little thin, but this book is really more about Marnie and her changing understanding of who she is, so it did not detract from the overall feel of the book.  The nods to Jane Austen are fun, but never too much - a reader with little knowledge of Austen's work (can you imagine?) could still connect to Marnie's journey.  Her gentle transformation is handled deftly, and the author does a wonderful job of describing the San Francisco area.  There was one moment where Marnie and her friends go out for Halloween, and Marnie thinking about the freedom therein was beautifully stated.  I appreciated some of the "reveals" at the end of the book, which allowed some seemingly one-note characters depth.  Overall, the author did an exceptional job of capturing the voice of their characters, and I look forward to reading more from them.  I can't wait to give a copy to some of my Austen-mad students soon.  Thank you for the opportunity to read a great book!
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Being Mary Bennet by JC Peterson is a fun read with strong appeal for lovers of classic literature. It is genuinely funny, authentically teen, and honestly encouraging for every teen who has felt like everyone else belongs more than they do. In Being Mary Bennet, Marnie Barnes is the privileged middle child of wealthy Silicon Valley parents. Her four sisters fit naturally, owning their talents and flaws, while she feels like an outsider anywhere outside a book. Her new roommate hits the nail on the head when she calls Marnie Mary Bennet, the stodgy, unpleasant sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When she begins to compete for her private school’s prestigious Hunt Prize, she steps out of the safety of books and into the lives of people, a messy, scary, uncomfortable place. At the same time, she wrestles with her years-long crush on a family friend, a guy who appears to be perfect but is anything but. When Marnie’s family faces tragedy and her Hunt Prize project brings up a long-buried family drama, Marnie must re-evaluate her perceptions about her family, her peers, and herself.

In this YA novel, Peterson gives readers realistic characters with genuine flaws who navigate life in bumbling, awkward, and even destructive ways while they search for their paths. Her characters are fully round, complex with contradictory flaws and virtues, and each one is an example for readers searching for their own way. While Peterson’s heroine is clear, the supporting characters are just as detailed and authentic, and even the nemesis, Lia, has redeeming qualities. 

The plot, like the characterization, is rich and detailed. As Marnie navigates her senior year and her quest for the Hunt Prize, new problems arise, faster than she is prepared to deal with them. Just as in real-life, the crises build and get tangled, but even the most heartbreaking and embarrassing moments can be endured with friendship and family. 

Being Mary Bennet is a fun read with an important theme. The book does contain some harsh language and references to sex and alcohol, but they are incorporated into the story so naturally, they feel genuine, rather than gratuitous. From hilarious mistakes and sarcastic dialogue to touching moments between sisters and friends, Peterson has written a gem. She gives YA readers a protagonist to relate to, emulate, and cheer for, and a supporting cast of family and friends who show the power of loyalty, love, and acceptance.
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I loved this! Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite classics and I love a good modern adaptation!
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Being Mary Bennet is a fun young adult comedic romance that highlights the importance of being yourself. Marnie has a unique voice and perspective. I look forward to more from this debut author in the future.
I will recommend to fans of YA romance and Jane Austen, but especially readers who enjoyed Pride by Ibi Zoboi and Mary B. by Katherine Chen.
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperTeen for digital review copy.
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Enjoyed this book. The plot and characters were well thought out and vivid. I would recommend this book to others and can't wait to read what the author does next.
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This was DELIGHTFUL! Marnie is modeled after Mary, the most lecture-prone and joy-thieving of the Bennet sisters. While working on a project for a prestigious award (mostly in an effort to gain the approval of her family and to best her overachieving older sister Lindy, who is modeled after Elizabeth), Marnie realizes that she's the Mary Bennet of family/friend group and begins an effort to mature and become the protagonist of her own life.

Marnie drove me absolutely nuts at first (as intended by the author, I'm sure), almost to the point of no return. I was sure that there was nothing she could do to make me root for her, but she transformed into a sympathetic character so smoothly I almost didn't notice. Her friendships feel real, as does her personal growth. Would recommend this to fans of Pride and Prejudice and/or tales of personal growth.
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Straightlaced, bookish Marnie is convinced that she is "Mary" in her family of 5 sisters.  Her successful older sisters are the "Lizzie" and "Jane" and that is just how it is.  As Marnie persues the big Hunt Prize at her private girls school, she starts to wonder if being Mary is holding her back.  She decides to shed her Mary persona to become a more outgoing and positive person.

The Hunt Prize is Marnie's main goal for her senior year.  Her sister won it years ago and she feels that she must win it to prove to her family that she is as worthy as her older sister.  She decides on service project that involves reading to animals, which introduces the adorable Whit to the picture.  Whit is so easy to talk to but Marnie's heart is with the gorgeous friend of the family, Hayes.  As she becomes more involved with her project, she starts to include her family members.  She finds that they are more than a "perfect" older sister and aloof dad. And that they like her a lot more than she realized.  

Adhira, Marnie's roommate, is her main cheerleader and support.  Although Marnie initally sees her as an irritant (she wanted a single!), their friendship grows into one of the most important relationships in Marnie's life.

Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, Being Mary Bennet is a fun and sweet YA novel about a young woman exploring who she is as well as accepting and loving her family for who they are.  There is some drinking and minor swearing but no drug use or sex.
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Being Mary Bennet is a fun look into the life of an 18 year old girl who has yet to embrace herself and does not fit in with her peers or even in her own family.  Literary lovers will enjoy the Jane Austen and other references and analogies.  I will admit to not always loving the protagonist and being angry with her selfishness at times.  The author draws a great parallel to Mary Bennet which is a very creative twist since most young girls wish to be Lizzy Bennet!  Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend.
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