‘The Next Best Thing’ by Jennifer Weiner
I adore author Jennifer Weiner. Her popular, best-selling novels are fun, quirky and revealing. Did you like Good in Bed or In Her Shoes? Weiner’s latest, The Next Best Thing, runs along those lines. It tells the story of Ruth, a young Hollywood TV writer who lives with her sparky grandmother. Ruth suffers the trials and tribulations of climbing the male-dominated ladder of TV. She finally gets her own show–a story about a girl and her grandmother, Golden Girls-style–and things go downhill from there. Will Ruth ever see her dreams come true? I know the answer, but it would be rude of me to give it away.
I connected to the vividness of the characters. Ruth lost her parents in a childhood car accident that severely scarred her face. Against all odds–she was bullied and lacked friends–she musters up the confidence to leave her small Massachusetts town and go to Los Angeles. Her vivacious, protective and well-dressed grandmother, Ruth’s caretaker since she was 8, comes along for the ride and finds exciting acting work as an elderly extra.
Romance and raciness ensues. Hearts are lifted and dropped and lifted up again. The most intriguing part of the story was the insider peek at how things go down in TV. Weiner knows from personal experience. Her show, State of Georgia, ran for 12 episodes on ABC Family in 2011. What I gathered from The Next Best Thing is that women have to navigate carefully in a misogynistic industry. The most popular female comedy in the book is written exclusively by men.
Women also have to face a double standard in real-life literature, Weiner has often said. ”If a man writes about a family, it’s like, oh, he’s really writing about America,” Weiner told NPR. “If a woman writes about a family, it’s just assumed that she’s writing about herself.” She points out that the New York Times reviews many more crime books than romances, and female writers often get relegated to the Styles section.
See, the author is cool. The Next Best Thing is too, especially if you love Hollywood, television and stories about making it and breaking it in Tinseltown. The writing and plot are both sharp and fast, proving why Weiner is a longtime bestselling author. I’ll be watching the lists, and I’m sure The Next Best Thing will take its rightful place soon.Add a Comment