Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: July 3, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 400 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
My Thoughts: I read the short story, Swim, upon which this novel is based and just knew that I would have to read this novel. I mean, I've read Jennifer Weiner in the past and liked it, but there was something different from the get go with this story. Telling the story of a struggling writer in Hollywood, living with her grandmother, who has raised her since her parents died in a tragic car accident when she was a little girl, Weiner tells the story of trying to make it work and seeing how twisted our visions can become when we let others take the reins.
For me, the best part of this novel was the characters. There were a lot of them, but they were all so real, it almost felt like I was reading a tell-all memoir and not a work of fiction. Ruth is so well crafted, so multi-faceted, that it's impossible not to like her. She was in the car with her parents when they got into that horrific car accident, and Ruth's body was badly burned in places. Since the accident took place in the 1980s, the medical prowess that we have today was not available back then, so multiple surgeries to try and heal her skin have left her scarred on her face and part of her body. Your heart breaks hearing about how she dresses to cover up those burn marks. Realizing how that's the first thing people see when they look at her, Ruth is constantly trying to have people focus on other things about her, whether it be the hat that she pulls down low to try and cover the scars, or her quick wit. Her self-esteem issues are issues that all women have grappled with, but those burn marks make it so much more. Weiner crafted such an amazing leading lady for this novel and Ruth is probably one of my favorite main characters ever!
Now, the bad news about this book: there seems to be little to no editing in the story. There was one point where Ruth arrives to a party wearing pants, a few paragraphs later, she is talking about the skirt she's wearing, and by the end of the night, she's taking off her dress at home. I mean, come on! Little things like that could have been avoided. It didn't ruin the novel for me, but it did take away my attention sometimes because I was so focused on the bad editing. If you are looking for some chick lit that's a bit heavier, then you should look for this book. It was a great, quick read, and one that I will be sure to recommend to people looking for something light to read.