Title: The Next Best Thing
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: ARC from publisher
Actors aren’t the only ones trying to make it in Hollywood.…At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders left her childhood home in Massachusetts and headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to make it as a screenwriter. Six years later, she hits 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 showrunner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on her boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear for writer’s room showdowns and an eye for bad backstage behavior and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller coaster, a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
I had mixed feelings about this book.
On one hand, I really wanted to like Ruth. I related to her close relationship with her grandmother (I spent at least 25% of my time living with my great-grandmother until I graduated high school), and I sympathized with the difficulties her disfigurement caused her (because we all know a Jennifer Weiner protagonist has to be “damaged” in some way). But that was pretty much it. I didn’t love her, and I feel like I only rooted for her because the author told me to.
The book has its good points. The peek inside the world of sitcom production was enlightening (if at all accurate), and I enjoyed Ruth’s attempts at managing her cast. I also really liked the Two Daves, if you remove the parts of that storyline that were wrapped up a little too conveniently (*cough* Dave’s girlfriend *cough*). But there was entirely too much foreshadowing in the construction of the story. I wish it had been told more linearly, so I could be surprised when disaster came, rather than reading the equivalent of “so, that didn’t exactly work out, here’s what happened”.
Was it a triumphant ending? Eh, yes and no. Overall, the book was good enough, but not great. Kinda like Ruth’s sitcom.
- “I was frustrated with Ruthie’s meekness and willingness to accept poor treatment from men, actors, and executives.” — Book, Line, and Sinker
- “This was a great story with a ton of balance! There is drama, both political in the crazy world in Hollywood and personal drama for many of the character, romance, excitement, disappointment, frustration, exhaustion and so much more. “ — Lisa’s World of Books
- “While The Next Best Thing is funny, quirky and enjoyable, that is about where I would leave it.” — Book Journey