Book Review: The Next Best Thing, Jennifer Weiner

I have started a new page where I will be submitting brief reviews of books I am reading in the hope to spark some interest and get others reading! I have started listening to books on tape, well mp3, and it helps fill my drive to school/work and it has totally opened up my eyes to reading in a different fashion! I am so intrigued and find myself really showing emotion towards the events and characters, it’s awesome! I thought it would put me to sleep – I was SO wrong! Hope you enjoy!

The Next Best Thing – Jennifer Weiner
For the month of September, I listened to The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner. I have read some of her other books and I have truly enjoyed her characters, character development, romantic/realistic plot lines, and the wit she usually incorporates. So I was excited to “read” The Next Best Thing. 
Plot: The story is about a 20 something woman,  Ruth, who lives with her vivacious Grandma, Rae, and the two are completely co-dependent.  Ruth’s parents were killed in a car crash when she was  young child and her Grandma took over as her caregiver.  Ruth was burned really badly on the right side of her body and she spent a great deal of time in hospital beds – which took her away from the ridicule that followed everywhere she went.
While in hospitals and recovering from skin grafts and surgeries, she developed a love for tv – found it to be an escape from the “real world” and allowed viewers to be able to take a step out of their own lives and align themselves with the lives of the characters. Because of this love for tv, she decided to move to Los Angeles wither grandmother – the 2 packed up their home in Massachusetts and moved West.
After adapting to the new culture in California, Ruth gains a job as an assistant, throwing away a social life to the demands of her job, and Grandma Rae finds jobs as an extra on popular shows and develops close friendships with many.
Ruth submits her manuscript for her show, The Next Best Thing – a show that mimics the life of her and her grandmother.  The show is picked up by a network and the avalanche of problems begins to take place as the show spirals beyond Ruth’s hopes and dreams – leading to an unhappy main character, a strained relationship between Ruth and Grandma Rae, but of course, develops into a love story.
Main Characters:
Ruth: I never thought I would do this. I actually found myself yelling at a character. I initially found myself feeling really sorry for Ruth in all that she had been through in her life.  This quickly developed into “buck up girlfriend and make something of your life”. Then, of course, she fell into a horrible romantic situation, and all I could think is, “welp, you had it coming to ya, stupid people make stupid decisions”. By the end of the book, I found a disconnect with Ruth – she had developed into the successful individual I was hoping she would – but I found she lost herself in exchange for love.
Grandma Rae: A selfless woman, who put aside many of her hopes and dreams to raise her granddaughter – but I don’t know many grandmothers who wouldn’t do this! She was quick witted, a wonderful home-maker and a strong individual. In the beginning of the book, she seemed to put much of her personal life into that of her granddaughters and towards the end of the book she took a stand for herself and her future and found love, again.  It was great to have her develop as Ruth did and then tears were provoked when she finally decided to set Ruth free and live her own life.
3/5 – I found myself really enjoying the book, following the plot very easily, but I found Ruth to be a bit of an annoying “damsel in distress” and it was often difficult to relate to her character.
If you like Jennifer’s books, I would definitely recommend it. It is along the same lines with the rest of her work, but I had a challenging time with the main character.
Book Information:
Pub Date: July 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1775-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Atria
Next Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
ISBN-10: 030758836X


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Next Best Thing, Jennifer Weiner

  1. Whoa… we disagree on something! I actually thought Ruth found herself and was so excited to see her in a happy relationship by the end of the book! I love the idea of doing reviews (and that you’re doing the book on tape thing, too!). Can’t wait to see what you have to say about Gone Girl.

  2. Really????? Yes, I was really happy she ended up in a relationship, but I couldn’t handle her. I thought she was whiny and needed to open up her pretty little eyes!
    ((also, I like that you say we disagree on something, haha too funny and true))

    I’ve “read” Gone Girl, just haven’t done the review yet. I’m onto Thirteen Reasons Why right now, started it this morning!

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