For the first time in my life, I find myself in the position of being about to review a book written by a author whom I personally know. Not just an aFor the first time in my life, I find myself in the position of being about to review a book written by a author whom I personally know. Not just an acquaintance, mind you, but an honest-to-goodness, longtime friend. My cataloging life partner from library school! The woman who helped me learn how to use a Mac! The gal I rocked out to Dar Williams with in Broad Ripple in April 2006! The loyal friend who helped me prepare for the interview that landed me in my current wonderful job!
Sorry...I digress. This is supposed to be about Sarah Title's book. But how am I supposed to give an unbiased review of a book written by a personal friend? Perhaps I can't. Who cares? Here I go!
I don't often read romance novels; historical fiction tends to be my escapist subject of choice. But the plot of this novel caught my attention, and as it so often happens, it ended up being the right book that showed up at the right time in my life. *cough cough* not that I relate AT ALL to academic librarian Bernie, who is unwittingly caught up in an Internet furor after her "Disapproving Librarian" face becomes the Meme of the Week (TM) and provokes plenty of pity and derision from a society that loves to reduce women to being objects intended to be courted, admired, scorned, and shamed. Nonetheless, this "undateable librarian" becomes more than just a meme when an online publication, Glaze, and a journalist, Colin, takes it upon himself to turn her into a project. The challenge, ostensibly, is for him to give Bernie a makeover and send her out on 30 dates in 30 days. The challenge actually becomes for Collin to understand the ways in which women are held to impossible standards in a game where the goal posts are always changing, in a world where women's worth is measured not by their personality and contributions, but the ways in which they (dis)please the male gaze. And the challenge is made more complicated by the fact that Colin finds himself wanting, very much, to date (and do other things with) Bernie.
Buckle up, folks. This is a fun and flirty read with a solid amount of substance and a powerful feminist message. Bonus points for the author really teasing out an authentic depiction of quirky, liberal, diverse, pretentious San Francisco and making it a character all its own!
***Quick spoiler alert***
The only issue I had, personally, with the book (and really, I think it's more to do with my own cynical point of view) is the credibility of Colin's character towards the end of the story. He seems to be utterly besotted with Bernie after...uh, being intimate with her...and thinking she is the best sex he has ever had. I just don't find that particularly believable, but that's because I don't believe that of any guy, and no romance novel will be able to tell me differently.
One other reviewer pointed out the lack of diversity in the menfolk that Bernie dated, and I do see their point (even if I didn't pick up on that myself.) But one thing that I will point out...while the men Bernie dated generally were not identified as being ethnic minorities, I don't recall them as being identified explicitly as Caucasian, either. So perhaps we are projecting our own biases and expectations, there.
(PS: Even IF Bernie finds herself believing that dating is not so horrible, doesn't mean this here librarian/reviewer is inclined to be talked 'round to that point of view. The mere thought of it makes me want to cry and rip my own arms out.)...more