Dreams of Significant Girls
by Christina Garcia
reviewed by Olivia Partamian
Three girls, three summers, one unbreakable bond as told by Christina García in her contemporary fiction, Dreams of Significant Girls. Garcia’s story follows the lives of Vivien Wahl, Shirin Firouz, and Ingrid Baum, all roommates at a Swiss summer camp. These three girls could not be more different in terms of heritage, personality, and aspirations, but their experiences force an unshakeable bond over the course of three years. Vivien, who lives in New York, after fleeing her home country of Cuba, dreams of becoming a chef. She constantly feels self-conscious about her body, but when she cooks all worries melt away. She loves both of her parents, but finds herself caught up in the middle of their divorce, a position she never thought she would be in. For this reason, Vivien is sent away to Switzerland for the summer, unsure of the home she will return to. Shirin Firouz, from a very prominent Iranian family, loves her life full of science, math, and horseback riding.
However, she does not have many friends and has always been fragile and sickly. Not to mention, her mother, who loves her very much, discourages Shirin’s love of school work, due to a strong stigma against women with these passions in her country. In an effort to expose Shirin to friends, and potential husbands, she sends Shirin, against her will, to summer camp. Ingrid Baum, a rather rebellious Canadian teen cannot escape her home town reputation. Not only do the people in her small town think she is different, but even her parents suspect something is off. They consistently question her art, which serves as her emotional outlet. In fact, the decision to send Ingrid to summer camp is made after her mom finds a portfolio of her abstract works. All three girls, arrive at boarding school with no intention of enjoying themselves, but soon find common ground in family problems. They are there for each other as they each experience first heartbreak, failure in their passions, and shocking revelations about their intertwining family histories. Against the backdrop of a picturesque Swiss summer camp, these three girls explore what it means to be a woman in today’s world. The novel follows the girls as their values and dreams change and expand to fit the people they become. The overwhelmingly prominent theme of sisterhood, constantly appears, as the girls’ families fail to show support of their passions. Vivien, Shirin, and Ingrid are the three best friends none of them knew they needed, but once together, were necessary for each to grow as young women.