Karen Hansen's Reviews > If You Were Here

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
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Jul 17, 12

Read in July, 2012

I have a lot of love for Jen Lancaster as an author and I think that's what has bumped this review to three stars. Lancaster always makes me laugh and when I read her books, I feel like I am hearing a close friend spill about their life. She has a great way of bonding with readers, drawing me in and making me feel like I am a friend. As a writer, I think that this is a wonderful skill and something that a lot of other writers are unable to accomplish.

"If You Were Here" marks Lancaster's departure from non-fiction, a story about a couple who buy the house used for the character Jake Ryan in the John Hughes classic "Sixteen Candles." The house ends up being a complete renovation nightmare and surrounded by bitter neighbors who didn't want the house sold in the first place. The couple quickly go from bliss to homeowner hell.

As a long time fan of Lancaster's non-fiction books, I had a difficult time separating the two main characters of Mia and Mac from Lancaster and her husband, Fletch. Mia and Mac were just so similar in tone to the way Lancaster has always portrayed her husband and herself. I felt like Lancaster had always wanted to buy the Jake Ryan house, so she inserted herself/her own personality in a fictional scenario. Even though I love Lancaster, I wanted different characters for this story.

Also, with the notable exception of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", I am not a John Hughes fan. I don't at all relate to his movies and they in no way resemble my teen years. I know that his is a huge icon for many people my age, but I just don't get his movies. This immediately made it difficult for me to relate to the character of Mia in the story and I feel that this was a significant reason for my feeling distant.

I've been through home remodel hell. I get it and many portions of this book had me nodding in understanding. However, the home repairs seemed to never end and after awhile, it went from humorous to tedious. The story could have used some editing in the last third or maybe a different plot direction. It grew old.

I still love Lancaster, but this fiction attempt fell flat.
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