Book Review: Being Mary Bennet by J. C. Peterson

Posted March 16, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 23 Comments

Being Mary Bennet
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Half a Flame

by J. C. Peterson
Publication Date March 15, 2022
Published by HarperCollins
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Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Books & Libraries, Young Adult Fiction / Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction / Family / General, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Friendship, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every bookworm secretly wishes to be Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

A less acknowledged truth is that Mary Bennet might be a better fit.

For Marnie Barnes, realizing she’s a Mary Bennet is devastating. But she’s determined to reinvent herself, so she enlists the help of her bubbly roommate and opens up to the world. 

And between new friends, a very cute boy, and a rescue pup named Sir Pat, Marnie finds herself on a path to becoming a new person entirely. But she’s no Lizzy, or even Mary—instead, she’s someone even better: just plain Marnie.

With a hilariously sharp voice, a sweet and fulfilling romance that features a meet-cute in an animal shelter, and a big family that revels in causing big problems, this charming comedy of errors about a girl who resolves to become the main character of her own story (at any and all costs), is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Becky Albertalli…and Jane Austen, of course.

Being Mary Bennet by J. C. Peterson is a young adult novel that is angsty, and uplifting at the same time.  Life in a private high school and a loud boisterous family make this a fun read. 

Marnie Barnes is the middle child in a family of five girls.  She believes that she is the Mary Bennett of her family because she’s in the middle, a bookworm, and not social, similar to the Mary Bennett character in Pride and Prejudice.  She doesn’t want to be the surly, quiet Mary and decides she wants to be the Lizzy Bennett character instead and be the protagonist in her life instead of a side character. 

Marnie also is trying to win an academic prize by working on a project with the local animal shelter and library.  Her bubbly roommate Adhira helps Marnie to come out of her shelf and to stop being such a Mary Benett.  

At first, I didn’t like the main character of Marnie.  I thought she was a bit self-absorbed and stubborn.  I did however love her roommate Adhira, and once they started to work together, I warmed to Marnie and finally really liked her and was rooting for her to follow her dreams.  Marnie’s transformation from a socially awkward, bookish, acerbic teenager to a happier, slightly more socially acceptable person is the journey I wanted for her. 

The author did a good job of including elements of Pride and Prejudice but ensuring it’s updated and modern.  The setting of San Fransisco is a large part of the story and I enjoyed exploring the city along with Marnie and her friends.  

This is a Young Adult book, and is perfect for a teenager, young adult, or anyone who is young at heart, like me! I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About J. C. Peterson

I grew up in Michigan, playing on railroad tracks and swimming all summer. After college (hey, MSU!) I moved to Oklahoma City and worked for several years as a journalist. I continued my slow migration west with a move to Denver, where I live today with my husband, two young boys, and senior tabby. I might miss the lakes in Michigan, but those mountain views are hard to beat.

In 2019, I was chosen as a mentee for Pitch Wars, and my spectacular mentors Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi helped me edit and polish my novel BEING MARY BENNET. (Was it stressful? Oh my god, yes. But so worth it.)

23 responses to “Book Review: Being Mary Bennet by J. C. Peterson

  1. I can handle an unlikable character if they have positive character growth. I like that the story is a bit inspired by P & P as it’s a favorite of mine.

    Btw, I tried to go back and comment on your review for The Suite Spot, but wasn’t able to. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the setting and the whole process of forming the hotel/lodge. It sounded fun and I liked that it was a low-drama romance.

  2. Lovely review! I really like books on Austen’s work. Confession, I don’t remember which sister was Mary. Ha!

    • Thank you, Kami. I didn’t know which sister Mary was either! She’s the boring middle sister who is a bit harsh and judgmental!

  3. This sounds so much fun. Very few people get their Austen adaptations right, and this seems one of them. Must check it out some time

  4. It has been a while since I read/watched Pride and Prejudice. I think I would need to reread that to get the full Becoming Mary Bennett experience. I sounds like a cute YA book. I’m currently reading Sense and Sensibility for my book club.

  5. I like so many attributes of this story, especially that it includes elements of Pride & Prejudice. Excellent review, Wendy!

  6. Reading young adult books makes me feel young again! This one is on my TBR list so I am looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing. Mary Bennet always needs a second chance!