The Next Best Thing
by Jennifer WeinerPublisher: Atria Books Publication Date: July 3, 2012 Genre: Contemporary Fiction Source: Review Copy from publisher Rory’s Rating:
Blurb From Goodreads:
Blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood…
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.
I want to start this by saying I generally enjoy Jennifer Weiner’s books. Particularly, Good in Bed is a really fun read. That being said, The Next Best Thing isn’t nearly as good as some of her previous work.
Ruth Saunders has had a tough life. When she was a child, she and her parents were in a car accident that killed her parents and sent Ruth flying through the windshield. Although she survived, she’s had to endure several operations and quite a bit of pain, leaving her permanently disfigured. Subsequently, she’s never found the confidence to believe she is beautiful and it is something that hinders her life.
After college, Ruthie moves to California to be a television writer. It takes her years to get a break. Even then, everything is not what she expected it to be. She envies how easy her grandmother assimilates to the west coast, she pines for her boss, and her show is not headed in the direction she dreamed (is anyone honest anymore?). Given the genre of the novel, I won’t tell you the ending, but you might be able to guess!
While this novel is fine (I debated between 2 or 3 stars, ultimately going with 3), it is not as memorable or entertaining as her earlier work. Ruthie is hard to root for, but perhaps she was just TOO insecure for my taste. I did, however, enjoy the two Daves. They are the best part of the book and the most well developed characters. I was rooting for Ruthie and Dave to be able to get past their issues; it was definitely the most intriguing part of the novel and kept me reading. Overall, The Next Best Thing is, simply, fine. If you’re looking to break into Jennifer Weiner’s books, skip The Next Best Thing and start with Good in Bed and Little Earthquakes. 3 stars.