Charity's Reviews > Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
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Jul 26, 10

bookshelves: owned, chick-lit
Read from July 03 to 17, 2010 — I own a copy

** spoiler alert ** SOMETHING BORROWED was recommended to me by a number of friends, and I had bought it long ago though I did not read it until now. This was a challenging book for me to get through. It's not the writing, it's not the story or the situation the characters are in, and it's not even the fact that's it's part of the early class of chick lit that swamped the market a few years ago.

It's the characters.

I simply could not root for anyone in the book. And before I get carried away with my review, let me recap.

In SOMETHING BORROWED, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends since their childhood years in the Midwest. Now that they're all grown up and Rachel is on the verge of turning 30, they're living it up in the Big City (NYC, naturally). Darcy is described as a self-centered, whiny girl who is accustomed to winning at life. She gets the bomb job, the hot guy, the easiest kicks. She is a consummate Miss Popularity with a little bit (or a lot) of Mean Girl thrown in. Rachel, the drab sidekick-slash-best friend who is not nearly is pretty and who is stuck slaving away for a law firm in the City is usually relegated to cleaning up after Darcy, fixing stuff up for Darcy, and basically coming in 2nd to Darcy's dazzling wins.

On the night of her 30th birthday, Rachel gets drunk and sleeps with Dex, Darcy's fiance... and thus begins the tale.

As the story develops, I find more and more things to dislike about every character in the book. Rachel and Dex begin an affair, willingly, eyes wide open. Rachel falls in love with Dex, Dex supposedly loves Darcy, and both continue their deceit even as the September wedding draws ever nearer.

Two of their friends are told/find out about the affair, and NO ONE tells them (or Rachel, since this is in first person) that what she is doing is wrong, disrespectful, hateful, and quite frankly, despicable. More than once, I had to ask myself "What's wrong with these people?". Flawed characters are one thing, but to consistently and willingly do something such as this to one's lifelong friend -- regardless of how self-centered and crappy that friend might be -- makes me think less of Rachel herself (and Dex, for that matter).

So, I found that I could not root for any of these characters to win, and when I reached the novel's end (because, as I said, this is not about bad writing or even bad plot or bad story... this is about characters I cannot respect, love, or cheer for), I was sorely disappointed.

(SPOILER ALERT).

Ultimately, Rachel "wins". (Truthfully, that seems to be a big part of what's going on internally for her - a competition with Darcy that she's been in her entire life.) She gets her man at the expense of her best friend.

I've struggled with this the last few days because on one hand: maybe Rachel and Dex deserve each other. And maybe that's their just desserts, and perhaps theres a kind of justice in Darcy getting stung for the first time. But I can't condone what Rachel's done. Even if Darcy is a crappy friend who's consistently selfish and whiny, she didn't deserve that kind of treatment from two people she trusted. Their betrayal, in my opinion, is so great that I cannot be satisfied with the novel's end. I do not feel that these two characters deserve each other unless they make one another miserable -- because they don't, in my opinion, deserve happiness. Especially with one another.

Now. That being said, does this sort of thing happen in real life? Yes, I'm sure it does. And it sucks. But I like justice in my books. I like characters I can admire, aspire to be, or -- at the very least -- LIKE. And I didn't get any of that in SOMETHING BORROWED.

Nevertheless, I admit that my impassioned outrage is the result of good writing on Giffin's part. If she was a terrible writer, I wouldn't care one bit about these characters. But she managed to elicit an emotion from me - albeit negative. I may have had a hard time getting through the book initially, but it was not due to her writing or the storyline, it was simply because I did not like the characters. I would never want to be friends with them in real life. It is a testament to Giffin's ability to craft a story that would urge me to read on despite featuring characters that are largely unlikeable.

I plan on reading SOMETHING BLUE [the follow-up novel from Darcy's POV:] sometime, but I am in no rush to hurry back to these characters. I trust Giffin enough to take me on another journey and make me feel something for these characters -- regardless of whether or not I like the end result.
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Reading Progress

07/08/2010 "I am a little annoyed with Rachel's whiny-ness, but I recognize myself in her words sometimes. Does that make me whiny too?"

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