Ten Girls to Watch

A Novel

Ten Girls to Watch

A radiant debut novel about stumbling through the early years of adulthoodand a love letter to the role models who light the way.

Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a roommate who views rent checks and basic hygiene as optional, and a writing career that’s gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column.

So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. After all, she’s being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she’ll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.
  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451673418 | 
  • July 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Ten Girls to Watch includes an introduction, and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Dawn West knew life would be hard when she moved to New York.  She just didn’t know it’d be this hard. On top of being broke, jobless, and living in a shabby Brooklyn apartment—complete with a slob of a roommate who won’t pay rent—Dawn is struggling to get over her ex-boyfriend Robert, who is blissfully dating a girl Dawn wants to hate. Making a pittance from her gig writing for a lawn care website under a pseudonym, Dawn is thrilled when a chance to freelance for Charm magazine comes her way. Her assignment? To track down the past winners of Charm’s annual Ten Girls to Watch contest and plan an event to honor their achievements.

As Dawn tracks down each of these extraordinary women, while experiencing the highs and lows of being twenty-something in the big city, she begins to question much of what she thought she knew about success, friendship, love—and ultimately—about herself.

Questions & Topics for Discussion

1. Read each of the Ten Girls to Watch profiles interspersed throughout the novel see more

About the Author

Charity Shumway
Photograph by Stacy Young

Charity Shumway

Charity Shumway received an MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University and a BA in English from Harvard University. After graduate school, she spent nine months reporting on the 50th anniversary of Glamour’s "Top Ten College Women" contest. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Ladies Home Journal, Fitness, and Garden Design, and her short fiction has been honored by Glimmer Train and Slice magazine, among others. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.