The Next Best Thing: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Guess what: things go wrong in Hollywood. People are mean, and women are judged by their looks! TV studios are shallow and only interested in the bottom line.
HALF of this book made me crazy, because, like The Devil Wears Prada, we're asked to buy into another story about a shallow, ridiculous, materialistic business, so when plucky Ruth begins to get kicked around, it's hard not to say, "TOLD YOU SO!" or "GET THE HELL OUT!"
The other half, however, is a good story. Weiner's a good writer, and HOORAY! she did not repeat the motif-du-past-few-years (or her last book) and go with a varied cast of narrators. We stay with Ruth and her grandmother, and the story believes in many things like familial love and good food and that women don't have to be size 0. Once the excrement had hit the Westinghouse, as a family friend used to say, the book got involving again: it was walking that familiar path to disillusionment that was unpleasant.
Overall, the quality of the writing was a "very good" (though Weiner did use "relatable" TWICE. Uggggggh.), but the plot is a little weaker. My favorite part was the unexpected concluding chapter or two where the cast-offs get their (partial) revenge. . . but overall it's worth reading.
One final point: perhaps it's because I just read "Wonder," but piling a badly-scarred woman and a man in a wheelchair into the same plot seems a little "issue of the month." It feels unnecessarily contrived, and I'm not used to feeling like that about Weiner's books. Hmmmm.
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