Leah's Reviews > The Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
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Sep 03, 12

bookshelves: books-read-2012, ebooks, for-review
Read from June 07 to 12, 2012

It’s taken me a while to really see why so many are fans of Jennifer Weiner, but I’m pleased to report I finally get it. Having struggled through Best Friends Forever and Fly Away Home, I’ve found her last two books to be a marked improvement. I really enjyoyed Then Came You and have just finished her most recent novel The Next Best Thing, which is what I’m reviewing today. I don’t know how or why, but something has finally clicked with myself and Ms Weiner and I’m so pleased to be able to say I really enjoy her books now and that The Next Best Thing was a really, really good read.

What I liked best about The Next Best Thing is that it’s set in the television world. You get lots of books set around TV shows and movies and the LA Hollywood scene, but you don’t get many set on someone who isn’t an actor/actress in Hollywood and that sets the book apart as Ruth Saunders is a writer. A writer whose show The Next Best Thing has just been picked up. Cue excitement, and happiness, as she sees her show come to life… Until it starts getting picked apart and patched up by the network and any amount of producers and people related to the network. I loved reading how Ruth’s idea turned from something she was so proud of to something she barely recognised as she was trumped at every turn. It sounds wrong to say I loved reading it, actually, but I know what I mean. If anyone knows how to write TV it’s Weiner who had a show State of Georgia air a year or so ago so if anyone knows about the backstabbing and the feuds and the changes that get made to a show, it’s Weiner and she writes it beautifully.

The characters in the novel are really great. I loved Ruth, facial scars and all, and I was mighty impressed with how she handled herself throughout the novel. I loved how passionate she was about her show (as you would be, obviously) and I adored her relationship with her Grandmother, who raised her since she was three years old. Her Grandmother is the coolest Grandmother ever. I’m not even joking. She moved to LA with Ruth and became an extra (and with massive success, too! Starring in Cougar Town and other shows!) and you will never meet a prouder Grandmother in the world. I’m not even joking. Their relationship is just fabulous to read and to see their ups and downs just leaves you rooting for them two constantly.

I really enjoyed The Next Best Thing. I liked the insight into a television show’s writer’s room. I liked that when Ruth was stressed or just needed a break from life, she went swimming. I liked Big Dave and Little Dave, who employ Ruth before she gets her big break with The Next Best Thing. The only downside was the rather open ending (an oxymoron if ever there was one!). It was finished, don’t get me wrong, but it also left space for a possible second book or a short story or something, which I’ll admit is perfectly fine with me. I really enjoyed the book. It was an excellent read with excellent characters and I am really looking forward to Weiner’s next novel, that’s for sure.
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06/12/2012
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