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The Next Best Thing

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  18,767 ratings  ·  2,201 reviews
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 B
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Atria Books (first published July 1st 2012)
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Insurgent by Veronica RothCity of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClareDeadlocked by Charlaine HarrisReached by Ally CondiePandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Can't Wait Books of 2012
326th out of 2,511 books — 15,929 voters
Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessThe Sandcastle Girls by Chris BohjalianBroken Harbor by Tana FrenchThe Next Best Thing by Jennifer WeinerBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Most Anticipated Books Summer 2012
4th out of 34 books — 99 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ronya Misleh
Looks like I am in the minority here, but I expect more from Jennifer Weiner. The book club questions at the end of the book make it sound a lot smarter and deeper and more intellectual than it really was. I found this book to be rather boring, nothing like the JWeiner books of the past. The story was not something I found to be interesting (even though it was somewhat autobiographical) and I did not root for a single character. And, there were several instances of inconsistent details (like at ...more
I struggled to FORCE myself to finish, "The Next Best Thing," by Jennifer Weiner. I fear Weiner has become a "has been" who is no more! Her early books were an assured good read ("Good in Bed," & "In Her Shoes" to name a few). The last 2 have been a chore, but I can't ignore one of her newly published books because I remember the joy the earlier ones brought me.
From the start, I felt this one was written with the hope it would be made into a movie, as was "In Her Shoes." I hope that is not t
Ms. Weiner, it is time for you and I to part ways. This is the fourth book in a row that I have been disappointed with. Once again, the editing is abysmal and the story is just so-so.

The first 100 pages of this novel are mostly back story and even when you finally get to the actual plot, you continue to flip flop with the back story. After reading such excellent books as Gone Girl where the back story is excellently woven into the plot, I find this novel boring and choppy. Don't get me wrong, i
This was ok. Jennifer Weiner likes to complain that male writers get more positive critical acclaim (like Jonathan Franzen---which is a big who cares? not me). But really they are a different caliber and guess what there are a lot of female authors who are worthy of more attention, you just really aren't one of them. This book was fine but face it Ruthie was not a terribly original character since she smacked of Tina Fey of the West Coast. And good for you for mentioning a Harry Crews book but t ...more
Ok, I totally get why this book has so many bad reviews. I really do. Yet, I can't deny that I personally really enjoyed it. It felt like I was getting an insider's view of Hollywood and the production of a new TV show. As one of those people who religiously keeps up with celebrity gossip and pop culture, I just felt like I was a fly on the wall. I also found the main character here to be very appealing and relatable. Yes, she made some bad choices (especially with respect to men) but I think we ...more
Lisa B.
My Thoughts:

The book was HUGELY entertaining. It has such a nice mix of Ruth’s contemplative thoughts, day - to - day activities and laugh out loud comments. The story flowed nicely and I enjoyed all of the characters, especially the two Daves (you’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about). When I finished the last page and closed the book, I thought - Yippee, add another name to my list of author’s I want to read more.

Don’t ask me why it has taken me this long to read a Jennifer W
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 m
If you're desperate for a Jennifer Weiner fix, skip this one and reread Good in Bed.

I'm giving this book an extra star out of respect for Weiner's past work. Her books mean summer to me... light but meaningful stories that make you feel like you've made a new friend.

The Next Best Thing felt like reading the first draft submitted to the publisher. I actually checked the cover a few times to see if it really was printed for public consumption. Details like the 76 year old grandmother of the main
Kayla Cagan
I think I went in with pretty high expectations for this novel and it fell short.

While some of the characters, like the Two Daves, were exceptionally well drawn (and they happened to remind me of a more-comedic Penn and Teller), they didn't help with what I found the major flaw: that the protagonist, Ruth, wasn't exceptionally likable.

Ruth's given a tough lot in life and has a charming and modern-old-fashioned grandmother to help guide her through it, but she still comes off as a victim - and
Was this the funniest book Weiner has ever written? No. Was it the most infuriating? YES.

In this book we meet Ruth, a writer-wannabe-TV-producer who was disfigured as a child in a car crash that also took her parents lives. Ruth moves to Los Angeles with her grandmother, who has been her only parent since the accident. Ruth has a boring boyfriend but a great job working as an assistant to two high-level TV producers - Big Dave and Little Dave. Ruth has a huge crush on Little Dave, who is so name
Definitely had potential with your atypical protagonist and love interest in a chick lit - we actually have characters who are disfigured and disabled (instead of your normal nonexistent flaws in lead characters). However, I never fell in love with Ruth, despite her background, and felt she was pretty bitter and judgmental . (view spoiler) ...more
This book was not at all what I expected. Too buried in morose and repetitive details and references to the main character's facial disfigurement, it doesn't let you get swept away by the story. Instead, it's a constant reminder that the story is about a girl whose face is disfigured. I expected something fun, playful, engaging, but found myself having to skip whole sections because they were so depressing. Plus Ruth's disturbing obsessions with the men she falls for made her look like a patheti ...more
I gave up on this one after 100 pages and too many inconsistencies to count. I finally cried "uncle" when the main character walked into the media room at her high school in the 1980's and it was filled with laptops. Really? I went to high school in the 80's and I am fairly certain the word laptop had not even been conceived at that point. I was disappointed in Weiner's last book and am afraid that she is now going down the path of other very popular authors, who get to the point of popularity w ...more
I totally loved this book and I can't believe Weiner wrote a book this good while also dealing with the whole Hollywood thing, as she was writing and shooting her television show, State of Georgia.

Makes me wonder how good her show originally was, before the executives cut it down to what aired last summer. Man, L.A. seems like a rough place to work in. Actually, I know it is, but after reading this book, I have a whole new respect for seemingly crap non-reality shows that get cancellled right a
It's hard to believe such a sophomoric book like this got published. Jennifer Weiner is a pretty bad writer, rambling on and on about almost 400 pages of nothing instead of having a tightly-edited plot that is worth reading. It's like an 8th grader writing fiction that includes hip television references. You'll find yourself quickly skipping through pages to get past the dull parts.

The book is supposed to be about a woman whose new television pilot gets produced, but it's filled with all sorts o
I'm so disappointed in this book. I was excited to read it because I thought that "Swim" was captivating as a short story. To me it feels like Jennifer Weiner took a great short story and used is as a vehicle to vent about a personal experience rather than take the time to develop real characters and situations (case in point - I think that if I had as many self-esteem issues as the author portrays Ruth to have the fact that my love interest regularly consorted with prostitutes would be a little ...more
Robyn Russell
I feel for Jennifer Weiner, in a way--I really do. She's a powerhouse, a brand, and I have no doubt that her publisher demands a book a year from her. She must write quickly, and well, to sustain her enormous fan base. That said, this feels like a hasty effort. Not only did I have to wonder where her editor's mind was when polishing the book (the book, as a whole, is repetitious), I didn't engage with the protagonist, Ruth Saunders, as I engaged with all of Weiner's richly drawn, hilarious and w ...more
Samantha Janning
Ah, a new Jennifer Weiner book. Who wouldn’t be excited to get that in the mail? This is the tenth book from the best-selling author, and one of my many favorites from her. The title is The Next Best Thing, which is also the title of a television series that Ruth Saunders wrote and is about to see on the air. Ruth moved from Massachusetts to LA at age twenty-three with her grandmother, a spit-fire lady with a killer fashion sense and who only wants to see Ruth happy. After six years of mundane j ...more
Wow. This is kind of difficult because I don’t know where to start. First off, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that I LOVED the book. The minute you start reading any of Jen’s books, the words just seem to suck you in.

It was definitely refreshing that Jen wrote the book in the first person. I tend to actually enjoy books more when written in the first person. It’s like you can almost see what’s inside of them and feel what they feel.

Even though I’m not an entertainment junkie per se,
Rory O'Connor
I want to start this by saying I generally have enjoyed 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 sent Ruthie flying through the windshield and killing her parents. Although she survived, she’s had to endure several operations and quite a bit of pain, leaving her permanently
Caitlin Chciuk
From my blog:

"The story follows Ruth, a woman following her dreams of screen writing a TV show in Los Angeles. However, it goes so much further than just the TV show. There are very detailed accounts of her past, which draw the reader further into the story. The story was captivating, well written, and kept me interested from beginning to end.

Once again, Weiner has captured real emotions to make her protagonist(s) relatable. Ruth is a strong, inspirational woman overcoming obstacles to reach her
Elizabeth Fagin
I really look forward to Jennifer Weiner's books. However - it seems when an author feels the need to grind out a book every year - this may be the result. I felt no connection with the characters, the relationship between the main character and her grandmother was a rehash (and a bad one at that) of another of her character relationships and the constant repetition of all the things that have gone wrong in the main characters life was maddening.

I was very disappointed. The plot seemed like it w
Jun 23, 2012 Lexxie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Strong women, who likes to read about strong women!
*I got a free copy from the publisher via netgalley in order to review this book*

This and other reviews can be found on my blog(un)Conventional Bookviews.

The Next Best Thing is simply delightful! It’s the only word I can use to describe it accurately. It tickled my funny bones, tugged at my heartstrings and made me root for Ruthie from the first sentence. All of the main characters seem so real to me that I wish they existed in real life. Ruthie needs a girlfriend, and I want to be that for her.
WARNING: This book will leave you captivated, so much so that you’ll find yourself crying fat, warm, silent tears on your flight back from San Francisco. Other passengers will be concerned and will avoid looking in your direction. You’ll try to explain that it’s the book, that “Ruthie doesn’t feel like she’ll ever be beautiful”. Nice old ladies will soothingly pat your shoulder and offer you gum. You’ll be yelled at by flight attendants for not turning off your iPad during landing. You’ll ignore ...more
LeeLee Shantay
There were things about this book that I really liked. I liked the fact that it was set in Hollywood. As someone who hopes to work in news I liked hearing about working on a TV show. I also liked Ruth's grandmother, though I feel that she was underdeveloped. The major problem I had with this book is that Ruth wasn't that likable to me. She'd already proven, through flashbacks, that she could be just as cruel as everyone else. It seemed like the writer was saying that Ruth had more of a right to ...more
I loved Jennifer Weiner's "Good in Bed" and "Little Earthquakes." This one, like her previous three, "Best Friends Forever," "Fly Away Home," and "Then Came You," was just fair for me. The story stars Ruth, who was badly injured in a car accident that killed her parents when she was 3. As a result, her face and part body were left permanently disfigured and scarred, and she was raised by her loving grandmother. Ruth and her grandmother end up moving to LA so Ruth can pursue her dream of becoming ...more
Jennifer Weiner is definitely one of my "comfort read" authors -- an author whose books I can always depend on for a wholesome good read. The Next Best Thing was no exception. It's the story of Ruth Saunders, whose parents died in a car crash when Ruth was little, leaving Ruth scarred both physically and emotionally, and Ruth is subsequently raised by her spunky and loveable grandmother. During Ruth's extensive surgeries to rebuild her face, her and her grandma bond over television shows like th ...more
Jennifer Weiner's THE NEXT BEST THING surprised me, honestly. I picked it up on a whim to balance the more "serious" literary fiction and nonfiction tomes I had brought up to the lake with me. I threw it in for fun, thinking beach read, light women's fiction. And it is, yes, all those things. But I found myself noting the author's skill and construction of her novels and character, respecting the talent of her novel construction. In fact, impressed. The book is actually a study in mastering the ...more
Read the beginning of the recent piece on Weiner in the NEW YORKER and was eager to discover a new author who openly embraced a feminist identity. I found this novel rather disheartening, though, if not surprising, given its subject (the development of a television show). We watch writer Ruthie and her show, also named THE NEXT BEST THING, from pitch to filming of the final episode, bearing witness to repeated examples of higher-ups framing sexist decisions as one designed to gain greater audien ...more
It seems like a lot of people were disappointed with this book, but I enjoyed it. Ruth Sanders moves to LA with her grandmother to make her dream of being a screenwriter come true. She eventually gets a chance to run her own TV show but it doesn't go as she planned. All of this happening while dealing with the loss of her parents and the scars on her body the car accident left. I thought it was interesting to see how a TV gets made. I had no idea what it took. However I think Jennifer Weiner use ...more
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Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, which was made into a major motion picture, and The Next Best Thing. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at
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“You don't get perfect-but I was going to grab this happiness and hold it as tightly as I could. I was going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted.” 4 likes
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