Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Next Best Thing

Next Best Thing
by Jennifer Weiner

Summary: 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

The Next Best Thing was one of those novels that you just don't want to end. I loved every word of it. Weiner has a way of drawing her readers in and making them feel like they are a part of the story. Her characters are very real and you feel the highs and lows that each one of them goes through. Instead of being totally woeful, Ruth Saunders stands out as an incredibly likable and real heroine. She is not perfect, she has flaws and insecurities, but  she doesn't use them as an excuse to lash out at people. This novel is incredibly witty and heartfelt. I enjoyed her scathing depiction of Hollywood and it's obsession with beauty. Weiner seems to hate Josh Schwartz and as someone has watched one of his show her scathing attack on Gossip Girl, Chuck and the OC is hilarious. But, she is not just singling him out, but rather using those shows an example of what is wrong with Hollywood. You real feel for Ruth and her naive desire to deliver a product that has heart. You feel for her when she has to make compromises that she does not agree with and you want to jump at joy when she finally finds love. This is by no means high art, but it's a satisfying read and you feel  like you are hearing a friend tell you the trials and tribulations of their life. The secondary characters are just as well constructed as Ruth is. Her grandmother is nothing short of a joy. She's a complex woman who sacrificed for those she loved and only wants the best for her grand-daughter. The two Dave's have such a ying-yang approach to working together you can't help, but wish they were real. This book is missing that feeling that you are in a world that's been constructed. Instead it's like you're prying into the life of someone who could have been your classmate, your roommate, your neighbor or friend.

It's a definite must-read.

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