Susan's Reviews > The Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: women-s-fiction
Read in July, 2012

This is my favorite Jennifer Weiner book since In Her Shoes. Instead of the melodramatic Women's Fiction of some of her more recent novels, she goes back to what she does best - telling the story of Ruth, an insecure girl who comes into her own and finds love along the way. So many things work well in this book - the fascinating look at the TV industry, the relationship between Ruth and her grandmother, the somewhat unorthodox love interest who demonstrates that people with disabilities can be just as sexy as anyone else. Weiner's own experience as a showrunner for a short-lived sitcom on ABC Family is put to good use, and I can't help but wonder how much of Ruth's frustration with the contrast between her vision of the show and the eventual whitewashed, dumbed-down network-approved version are autobiographical. Ruth's solution to the problem seems a little far-fetched, but this is fiction, after all.

One sidebar comment: The Jewish online magazine Tablet published a piece recently complaining that Weiner is doing her religion a disservice because her heroines aren't Jewish enough. I vehemently disagree - I love the fact that Ruth talks about Friday night chicken, getting married under a chuppah, etc., but being Jewish is just part of who she is. That's the reality for most American Jews, and Tablet should be thrilled that, unlike Ruth's TV protagonist, Weiner is allowed and encouraged to have Jewish characters.

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