BOOK CLUB: These Girls

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Author: Sarah Pekkanen
ISBN: 978-07-318-1569-2
RRP: $29.99

Sarah Pekkanen introduces us to three young women living in New York in her new novel ‘These Girls’. These Girls seem to be very different but as we get to know them a little better, and peek into their lives through Pekkanen’s words, we realise that they aren’t so different after all. More to the point, they aren’t that different from any young woman trying to find their place in their world. They have their insecurities and past experiences they would be happier if no-one ever discovered.

These Girls are realistic and believable, and the novel tells a story that you have no problem believing – there is no point where you need to suspend disbelief to get you past it. Actually, maybe there is one because I’m not sure I can believe that last chapter would ever happen.

Centred around the high fashion world of glossy magazines in New York there is a lot of emphasis on appearances so it’s understandable that Renee feels she doesn’t fit as a size 12 in a size 4 world and this is something I can understand and empathise with. I can understand the draw of diet pills, I can feel the horror of having to put yourself out there only to be shot down and humiliated by nasty and inappropriate comments. There is no reason that a size 12 shouldn’t win the coveted position of Beauty Editor at Gloss magazine but if you’re insecure about your size to begin with it would feel like a major hurdle, and how do you talk about it when your friends are all, seemingly effortlessly, the size 4 you so covet?

these girls

Cate has just landed the position of Features Editor but there are times she can’t stop herself wondering why. She started at the bottom of the ladder as a receptionist and has worked her way up but there are things in her past that will always stop her truly believing that she deserves this.

Cate and Renee have been sharing an apartment for a while now and they have a pretty easy, casual relationship but it has never progressed to the real bond of friendship that both of these girls so desperately need.

Enter Abby, the sister of the GORGEOUS guy working at another magazine in their building. She arrives in the middle of a party looking less than together. Trey is worried about her and isn’t comfortable leaving her alone while he jets off for a story, enter Cate, Renee and their newly-spare room.

Preparing the room for Abby brings Cate and Renee together a little more and sets them on the path to friendship. Renee is outgoing and friendly but Cate isn’t one to open up easily so she appears aloof and unwilling to connect when really she just doesn’t know how to open up – yet.

These Girls follows three girls who have come to New York for very different reasons and from very different backgrounds. They grow together after the initial ice is broken and become more than room-mates and as they grow closer they begin to share more of their secrets, tell a little more of their backgrounds until we have the full picture and can see how they got to where they are. Better than that we get to watch this friendship form, grow and blossom until these three damaged women find that strength and support that a close friendship offers to face their issues and move on from them.

These Girls is the beautiful tale of a friendship that saves three young women from themselves and the mistakes of their pasts, three young women that could be any one of us. Pekkanen describes the beauty and importance of friendship in a way that is totally down-to-earth and easy to read. She’s definitely an author I will be keeping my eye out for, and it was nice to get a glimpse into the way the big glossy magazines work – something to aspire to.

40 of our Beauty Chick Chat members have been reading These Girls, find out what they thought below…

39 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: These Girls

  1. Well, I have had the pleasure of being one of the reviewers of this book, and I say pleasure, because it really was! The entire book had me drawn into it from the beginning. I could relate to the characters (particularly Abby, whose brother had passed away when she was 4, the same age I was when my brother passed away). It is a very “now” book; with references to twitter, facebook etc throughout it. I loved the New York City setting, very Sex and The City feel. It was a wonderful book, and I have raved highly about it to friends and family (my sister will start reading it today when I drop it off to her), and it flows beautifully. The female characters have some personal struggles and it is nice to read how they attempt to overcome these hurdles. Life isn’t always perfect, and this book shows that. I would happily recommend this book especially to females aged 20-40+.

  2. I loved this book, I loved the fast paced magazine world, even though I had a tendency to compare it to Ugly Betty which was a show I loved. I love how Cate even though she is beautiful seems to have just as many self esteem issues as what Renee has.
    It is such a believable story, showcasing the cut throat world of high fashion magazines and the bitchiness and challenges that occur everyday. Also the devastating reality of how some normal women view themselves and the dangerous lengths they can go to, to get to the “perfect” weight or size or look, and the cheap remark on the blod sight is such atypical attack these days.
    Even Abby’s story is so real and so painful you can almost feel the pain she is going through.
    This is such a fantastic story and I am passing it on to my friend now that I am finished, I would definitely recommend it because I enjoyed it so much and couldn’t put it down. Oh I also had a chuckle at the Robert Pattinson reference in the book, being one of those mad fans it really made me smile that the book is so up to date with modern pop culture and technology.

  3. This is a great read – I was hooked from page one and did not want to put it down!

    The stories of the three girls is so believable and well written you can well understand their fears and celebrate their successes! It also points out the unrealistic expectations woman everywhere place on themselves to be perfect – the perfect size, weight or perfect in their profession or for the men (they want) in their lives. Failure isn’t an option and seems like the end of the world! So been there! And being destroyed by the wrong number of the scales, a bad comment or rejection from a guy – eeeeek we have all been there too.

    Such a great readable story – I would recommend this novel for any reader young or old!

  4. What an absolutely delightful read, I finished this one in record time, because I just couldnt put it down.
    This wonderfully written novel is about three young women all hiding some kind of secret from the world. They all come to New York in the hope of finding a better life, making a better life or escaping from what they thought would be a good life.
    There really is something in this novel for everyone. We see the struggles of three very different women, who really deep down are just the same on the inside. They each have their own personal fears of failure, humliation, and abandonment.
    Abby, Cate and Renee are a trio of girls that show us we all have same fears, they are just packaged differently. We see their struggles with work, family and relationships. That wanting of something more out of life, that wanting to belong.
    One is a nanny that falls in love with the father of the child, another is obsessed by her world of beauty and wanting to fit that perfect image of what society calls thin, and the third is trying to escape a past that meant she didnt graduate college.
    Any one of us could relate to part or all of each of the girls stories, and most importantly it teaches the meaning of true friendships and loyalty that comes with it.
    I totally adored this book, a fantastically easy read.

  5. This book was a good read. I liked the characters and felt involved in the details of their lives, lies and adventure. It was a relatable novel that drew me in and I enjoyed reading it.

    In saying that it wasn’t a book that I felt I simply couldn’t put down and had to continue reading. It was intriguing to read but it also felt a little predictable. It was more of an easy weeknight read.

    I loved following Abby’s story, it had the most strength. It was nice to relive her story and also read the emotions she was going through at the present time. I can also relate to her and her parents lack of love which I think drew me further into her character.

    I am curious to know if Trey and Cate ever end up together though? It would be great if another book followed as there is still much left to the imagination at the end. Does Renee move on to pursue other options or does she find happiness in the Beauty Editor role? I will be looking out for a follow on if ever there is one 🙂

  6. These girls is a warm, engaging story that kept me involved to the very end.
    There are no heroes or villains in this novel just three very human young women struggling with careers, relationships and family issues. Cate, Abbey and Renee are all very different but each have secrets that threaten to sabotage their professional and personal lives. The novel is well constructed and blends the present, past and inner lives of the three women seamlessly. It is ultimately friendship that enables them to confront their demons and move on to a more promising future.
    It is a book I would highly recommend as a great read.

  7. Wow “These girls” Sarah Pekkanen was simply a brilliant read. A hard book to put down without being tempted to just read another chapter or two! After reading the blurb,these were my initial burning questions.Will Cate cope with her new job demands as editor at Gloss?, Will Renee find the inner strength to love her figure that God gave her? Will Abby fit into the girls inner circle? What secrets are all the girls hiding? Are their lives richer now they have found each other?

    I felt sorry for Abby as she seemed like such a lost soul who desperately wanted to love and be loved in return. She found that love in the young child Annabelle and when they could no longer see each other, due to difficult circumstances, it broke my heart.
    Cate never really opened up her true feelings to anyone. I felt sorry for her that she poured her heart and soul into work commitments (working on the weekends was too much for me) and I almost cried when she couldn’t support her mother when she needed her the most. I honestly think that she would never truly open up to her friends and her college secret would stay hidden until her dying day.

    Personally,I related and emphasised the most with Renee. I have recently gained weight post pregnancy and no matter what I try I just can seem to lose it! Her comment that her weight was clinging to her body like the Titanic catchprase “I’ll never let go” had me in hysterics!!! I also found myself daydreaming about Trey he seems too good to be true, handsome & thoughtful. What a catch! I secretly wished that he would fall madly in love with Renee.

    In the end, I got caught up in the drama of the various characters lives and I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was interesting the lengths that all of the characters would go to protect their inner secrets and I am not sure whether the all found happiness and inner peace. My initial questions were answered along the way, and this book was a fantastic read and I’d highly recommend it.

  8. I really liked this book, it was so easy to read and sometimes that is a good thing, when you just want to relax and chill out and be taken away for a day or a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. It made me really want to spend more time with my friends or live with a group of girlfriends, which I have never done before. It looks like so much fun, though I guess it doesn’t always work. It depends on the friends. But really, really enjoyable read,
    thank you Beauty and Lace 🙂

  9. The stories of these women are so realistic! Making the book much easier to engage with and enjoy. It was interesting to read about the weight dilemas, along with the struggles and ‘little things’ that must be done to attain a particular job. The book explores personal and professional struggles and reveals how women feel when they are in these positions, and how they feel people around them judge them. I feel like I relate closely to Renee; especially at such a young age where appearance is everything and you’ll work so hard to get “that job”. I enjoyed the writers writing technique; giving us insight into background information whilst keeping us on track with the narrative. Very interesting.

  10. I just couldn,t put down this fantastic story -an easy read but so full of realism and emotion. Actually had a few tears at the end -not because of sadness but because of the choice Cate made to honour her friendships. There were many aspects of this book to which I can personally relate and I feel that the story presents excellent role modelling for young women with body image, communication or family issues. I am definitely going to be on the lookout for more Sarah Pekkanen books and will lend my copy to my family and friends. With thanks for the opportunity to review this book . Would make a great film!

  11. Well my review copy of ‘These Girls” arrived in perfect time – on the weekend I headed off to Kalgoorlie with a seven hour train journey both ways. The novel was perfect for the trip especially with my five year old interrupting me frequently. It was certainly not demanding, but engrossing enough to resent the interruptions. The characters were well contructed, believable and experienced a wide range of issues – most women would have encountered at least one of these throughout their lives from weight concerns, family issues, relationship problems to stressful work environments. the novel certainly put me off my dreams of becoming a writer for a magazine, but it was an enjoyable read and perfect for a short holiday.

  12. I was really thrilled to receive my first book to review courtesy of Beauty and Lace and I couldn’t have asked for a better novel to begin with.
    “These Girls” by Saral Pekkanen is a lovely book. It follows a short time span in the lives of three women, drawn together “through circumstance and chance.” Through real time and “looking back” chapters we come to know these lovely girls really well. They are completely different from each other but their compassion and empathy link them so that they become more like family. Each girl has had quite harrowing experiences to deal with and with the support of the other girls they come through their experiences as more complete beings.
    I loved the layers of friendship – the three girls with their respective families and the way so much had been shaped by their earlier experiences, some known, some so deep in the background that they would not easily be recognised and with their respecrive work colleagues and with each other.
    By the end of the book I felt that I knew the girls intimately, so much so that I would have liked a slightly different ending. However, I am a romantic and Sarah Pekkanen made the book “true to life.”
    Absolutely everything relating to the story line was totally true to life and believable.
    It is undoubtably a book where you really want to keep reading to see what will happen and one where you are a tiny bit sad to finish because you’ve enjoyed the relationships that you have become part of and would love it to continue.
    Recommended reading, with thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster, publishers.

  13. I really enjoyed reading and reviewing this book,
    It went into so much details about the characters that you almost felts as if you knew them personally!
    So much emotion, life experiences and ups and downs to keep you entertained throughout the whole book.
    The issues confronted in this book by each of the characters are so true to life and something that most readers will be able to relate to in one way or another.
    A great read, thankyou so much for the opportunity to review this book. It’s one I will be passing on to friends and family to read.

  14. I absolutely adored this book. I did find that it took me a little while at the start to get my head around the switching of characters stories and to remember who was who and what they did but once I got into the book it was easy to follow along.

    I wanted to read so quickly to find out why Abby left her boss and what was the secret surrounding her baby brother and I didn’t even connect it with the clues that are there but you don’t exactly realise it.
    Cate’s past was told straight up from the start and that was then used as something that kept being referred to through out the book as her little secret come back to haunt her.

    Renee, poor Renee. New job to apply for one must look they belong in that job or should they. Her struggle with trying to fit in how she thinks she needs to look is like many womens struggle with weight and confidence and was really wonderful to read.

    Yes there’s even the token hot guy who is Abby’s brother and who Renee has been on dates with. Will Cate fall for him too at the risk of her friends.

    The way the girls stories are interwoven is wonderful and its a wonderful book about friends and relationships with the people in our lives.

  15. Cate,Renee and Abby have come to live in New York for many reasons.
    It is these reasons and partly through chance these girls become both room mates and friends.
    Cate is fighting her way to make it to the top in the magazine Gloss and will find she faces many complications. Renee will do absolutely anything to nab the job of beauty editor at gloss
    including resorting to diet pills to lose weight to get the job of her dreams and fit in in this fast paced world of glamour, but will she find it’s too high a price to pay?

    Then we have Abby who is running away from a past that started out of a life she once loved – a graduate student and live in nanny. Her past that soon catches up with her is revealed and we discover what it is that made Abby abbruptly flee her old life.

    I read this book in 2 days I enjoyed the fast pace and lives of thes girls so much I was always reluctant to finish reading for the day. A definite must read.

  16. I received the book to review on Monday and finished it Wednesday. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down, I was absolutely hooked from the first page.

    It’s about 3 girls with insecurities and secrets and how they all help each other to get through their problems. I loved the way there was no sugar-coating the characters, it was warts and all, which made it more real and there were a lot of things I could relate to with all 3 girls.

    Cate, Renee and Abby are so different in character, but they turn out to be great friends and by the end of the book there is a special bond that can’t be broken.

    I really hope Sarah Pekkanen writes a sequel to These Girls as I”d love to see how the 3 girls lives turn out in 5 or 10 years time.

  17. Thank you for letting me review this book. Whilst I can’t say I absoloutely loved it, I did always feel it always keep me interested and touched on some really great topics, ie. weight issues, grief and loss etc and the psychological impact they can have on people. Before reading the book and going by the summary, I was most captivated and intrigued about what the deal was with Abby running away but by the end of it, my favourite character became people pleaser Renee. I felt that Cate and Abby weren’t all that sweet and liked to play with fire in terms of their relationships with Timothy and Bob and I can’t say I really liked the ending of the book. The author painted a picture through Cate and what Cate believed would happen in the future ie. what would become of the girls, her relationship with Trey etc. hence I believe that the book could have gone on for a little longer and properly told readers what would have actually happened between the characters. All in all the book was a pretty good read.

  18. Hi Everyone, I too was excited to be able to read and review “These Girls”by Sarah Pekkanen. I enjoyed the story, was an easy read and covered many issues that todays girls have to deal with in their own way (maybe not within the same professions though) in our modern and fast paced society. I can’t say I was moved to cry or laugh out loud but I could relate to the characters. I’m often a fan of everything being worked out at the end of a story, but I was not dissapointed with how “These Girls” was concluded. It left me with a happy feeling – that all in the world could be worked out – with a little love and support.

  19. When I first received the book I thought to myself – oh dear I’m not sure I will quite like this. I started and could not put it down. Seriously! Yes it is predictable what had happened to Abby and why she was running away but I could not stop reading it. 3/4 of the way through in about 1.5 days. It is light hearted and in a way that you can relate to them. I don’t think it is very SATC, I feel it is written so you feel empathetic to all the main characters. It’s a light read and just a good holiday not too serious one.

    Trying to picture their apartment in my head now!

  20. Thanx to Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read this book. I would class this book as light reading. I did enjoy it. I really liked the characters; Cate, Renee, Abby, Trey, Annabelle, Bob. Especially Renee, I think she’d make an excellent best friend. One of those girlfriends that every girl should have!
    I felt the story was very relevant to todays society, with all the mention of Facebook, Twitter and blogging. And the “dropping” of names like Robert Pattinson.
    The girls all struggled with their own problems and self-deprecating ways, but what each of them went through wasn’t a far-fetched scenario, they were events that I’ve either gone through myself or know someone who has. So it was very believable and relatable. Which does make a book way more enjoyable to read.
    I did find that the story as a whole was very anti-climatic, I read all the different backgrounds of the characters and was waiting for everything to come together – come to a head but in the end….nothing. Nothing was mentioned again about Cate’s past (even though I didn’t understand why it was such a big problem to begin with). I would’ve loved to have spent a bit more time at the end reading about Renee and how she recovered, I have quite a soft spot for Renee, she’s such a warm person.
    My favourite parts of the story were when Cate or Renee would talk about the beauty editor’s job and all the amazing perks they get. How there was a shelf sitting there holding many “holy grail” products and they were there for the taking. I wouldn’t be able to help myself if I was around that shelf, nothing would survive. It would have to be my dream job, I love beauty products and couldn’t imagine how lucky you’d have to be to get paid for getting your mitts on drool-worthy prodz every day.
    It was a shame that Cate and Trey wouldn’t or couldn’t take their relationship any further, it may have been true love for them???
    It was an enjoyable, light book to read.

  21. I absoloutely loved this book, the story was so engaging and the characters so believable. A very modern and up to date read I would recommend to anyone. One of the best reads in a long time!

  22. I LOVED this book. It has been a while since I read a light hearted chick lit book and this was the perfect break.

    The cover put me off a little, with a cover picture like that I would expect a book about a troubled girl… Something a bit brighter and maybe with three girls would make a lot more sense.

    The book was well written, a little hard to follow, it was not until the end that i could easily separate the three girls and their separate stories. I adored how it all linked in together at the end. I loved all the characters and wanted to give them all a MASSIVE hug.
    All the girls had problems and background that are familiar and believable which made it easy to relate to them.

    I will most definitely be recommending this book to others that enjoy this genre.

    (I POSSIBLY went home early from a party as I was dying to know how it ended…. shameful I know!!)

  23. Wow I absolutely loved reading this book and found it really hard to put down right from the first page. A very good quality novel! I will definately be recommending this book!

  24. Thanks to Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read and review this book.
    From the very first pages, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I classify as a light hearted chick book, a combination of SATC and The Devil Wears Prada.
    The girls all have their own problems, – normal everyday girls problems including careers, friendships and love, – and fitting into the social norms and expectations – which we have all have to deal with, or know somebody who has, so most readers would be able to relate to at least one of the girls, – and that made it so easy to get into the lives of the characters.
    It is so easy to read, and once you start it is so hard to put down. The way the stories of the girls are interwoven makes you just want to keep reading. And I could easily see this made into a movie, the perfect chick flick.
    A very enjoyable read, about the meaning of true friendship – perfect for a short break or a lazy day on the sun lounge. I can highly recommend it, and have already passed it on to a girlfriend. And I’ll be sure to check out other books by Sarah Pekkanen too. Thanks again Beauty & Lace.

  25. Ive had a very hectic past 2 weeks but the moments when Ive been able to pick up this wonderful book have been my favorite and most relaxing times.
    This is certainly a book that is more for females.
    Based in New York we folow the lives of three females.
    Cate whos running from a secret in her past that at times she fears people wil unearth.
    Renee who is a loving and giving person but someone who under values her own worth due to her struggles with her weight.
    Abby whos deepest desire is the traditional life of marriage, a couple of kids and the house with the white picket fence.
    Three very differant females with very differant wants and desires from life.
    I felt like i wanted to protect each and everyone of these ladies.
    I have really enjoyed reading this book and felt a little sad when i reached the end.
    I would certainly reccommend this book for a great fireside read this winter.

  26. What a great read, I just couldn’t put the book down. I will certainly be recommending this to my girlfriends.

  27. This book was an easy read, usual trashy chick lit that is good for the train/beach/plane as you don’t need to think about it.

    It had a good story line for the genre and it wasn’t apparent right from page 2 what was going to happen in the end!

    I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t an amazing read that would make me tell my friends about it. I did pass the book onto my Mum who thought pretty much the same.

  28. ‘These Girls’ was an engaging and light read; perfect for my travel to work and snuggling up on a lazy afternoon.

    It’s a modern journey of 30 something’s Renee, Cate and Abby, living together in a tiny apartment in New York dealing with life’s challenges and battling their own internal issues.

    Each character is very different but interesting. I found myself wanting to know more about them as they are so likeable and realistic. There’s Renee battling with her weight and seeing her only option to nab a fab promotion as a Fashion Editor at Gloss Mag by recklessly starving herself using dangerous diet pills. Cate although strong and feisty is tormented by a secret from her College days which has left her distrustful and alittle detached and caring Abby who has run away from her studies and job as a live in nanny, wrecked by shame and guilt.

    I empathised with them all but especially felt sad for Renee battling with her body image, waaaah something and I think most women endure!!

    Their friendship begins slowly when Abby arrives and as they attempt to discover and support her through her painful past start to identify and help one another.

    I would highly recommend this book as I really enjoyed seeing their friendships blossom and how it helped them see themselves differently to start new beginnings.

  29. These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen is the perfect ‘Friday night out’. With my glass of wine and roaring fire, I devoured this book like I would the cocktail list of a new bar on opening night.
    This book felt like I was at home, if my home was in glamorous New York City. Abby, Cate and Renee are everyday girls, girls that I can relate to and with similarities many of my friends encompass. It was hard at times to remember that these girls are not real, as it often felt like I was vicariously sharing their lives through a reality book.
    I was sad to finish reading this novel, and I will definitely be sharing positive recommendations for other young gorgeous, aspiring and delightful young women to also pick up and read ‘These Girls’.

  30. This book was brilliantly written. It is modern and up to date – it references facebook, twitter, etc. The story is gripping from page one and doesn’t let you down in any which way. A definate must read, recommended read!!

  31. A great read. These girls draw you into each of their lives – there is something about each of them that you can relate to, whether it be weight, striving to be better in any aspect of your life or even wanting the man that you know you can’t and should not have!

    I loved learning about their lives and their secrets and watching them get closer over time.
    Definitely recommend!

  32. I loved this novel from the start – the characters drew me in with their imperfections. I enjoyed following each story and felt for each of the girls as they struggled with their own issues. It was written in a straight forward style with enough information given about all the girls to empathise with them.
    I would have loved a longer story as it was wrapped up a little too quickly – or I’m hoping we get a sequel so I can find out what happens in Cate, Abby and Renne’s futures.

  33. I really enjoyed this book. A story of three young women living in New York. We get to see a wonderful female friendship they establish with each other . Two girls are wanting successful careers, and sometimes doubt themselves, the other has run away from a romance with a married man.
    A couple of little surprises at the end which I was not expecting. It was a good book. Thank you

  34. Loved this book. It’s slick and fast paced and gives a thoughtful insight to the lives of three women in New York and the life of a glossy magazine.

    It’s a seriously fun read – it’ll break your heart and make you laugh all in one… There are parts of the three women that each of us can relate to. It’s a great book to read with a glass of wine and your feet up – get your glam on and enjoy the pop cutlure references, the mental imagery of New York city and all that brings.

    Definitely recommended for anyone who likes a level of escapism with a dose of reality, for anyone who has ever dreamed of the bright Times Square lights and Jimmy Choos for a high powered office! 🙂


  35. I absolutely ADORED this book… I ended reading this in 2 sittings.. it was fantastic.
    It has a very urban/edgie feel.. great imagery and an author that has great skills for making you feel part of their story.

    Loved and would totally recommend~!

  36. I really liked this book as the author has connected the lives of 4 different women beautifully. It’s a very interesting book because all the characters in this book looks very real and you feel like they are one of you.
    The book is written in very simple style and is very easy to understand, it was like watching a movie because I could literally see all the characters alive in front of me. I was really sad when I finished reading this book as I wanted to keep reading it.
    I definitely recommend this book to all my friends out there, its a must read… 🙂

  37. I have just reliased that my review never posted… so lets see how I go rewritting it.
    I was one of the very lucky people that got to read this book. I am not the best book reader and usually takes me a LONG time to read a book. However I was sucked into this book pretty quickly. I found it easy to read and get into. It was a good tear jeker. I had a tissue handy at all times- I am a big sook tho. I was very impressed of the references to twitter and facebook and I must say I have since attempted to jump on the twitter banwagon.
    As I said I am not very good at review things but I would defiently recommend this to my friends as an easy read with a young Sex and City feeling to it.
    Good read thanks guys

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