Wingedbeaver's Reviews > If You Were Here

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
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Mar 08, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: first-reads, 48-in-2012
Read from March 08 to 14, 2012

Let's just start this off by making one thing clear, I am not Jen Lancaster's audience. Nothing she writes is aimed at 30 year-old educated meat eating male sports nuts (male being the key point where I veer away from her audience). I entered a Goodreads giveaway for my girlfriend and then felt obligated to read and review the book when I ended up winning because that's what they ask from winners and I would like to keep getting free books. The point being, take whatever I have to say about this book with a grain of salt. I think that Jen Lancaster has a gift for writing witty sarcastic prose and I can see why she has the fan base that she has, but this book just isn't my cup of tea.

The book is called a novel, but it reads exactly like the memoirs Lancaster has put out in the past. From the little bit of have read of her other works, if it didn't say novel on the cover I would have assumed this was just another wacky story from her life. She claims she wanted to stretch her creative muscles by writing a fiction book but this was the equivalent of someone trying to touch their toes and only making it to their waist. As funny as some passages are and as much as I would like to connect to Lancaster's Gen X sensibilities, the novel is flat and poorly structured. All the characters were either caricatures of real people or seemed to speak from the same voice. As much as I found some of their antics funny, I couldn't have been less sympathetic to the main characters and their upper middle class problems. Much of the conflict is brought on by their own stupidity. Much of the draw to Lancaster's other work is the fact that the people she writes about are real and you think, how could someone say that or do that to another person, but with the characters and situations being fictitious, it just didn't have the same appeal. The plot is super second act heavy with the third act resolution jumping out of nowhere and wrapping everything up in a neat little bow. We spend two hundred plus pages dealing with the main characters looking for a house to purchase and then trying to fix the money pit they end up with to have all the conflict and problems solved in matter of pages by a character that gets pulled out of nowhere. It felt much to rushed and forced.

Lancaster is obviously a talented writer who can tell humorous stories, but if this is the best effort she can muster when it comes to fiction she's better off sticking to the memoirs that made her so popular in the first place.
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