Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “If You Were Here” as Want to Read:
If You Were Here
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

If You Were Here

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  9,078 ratings  ·  1,260 reviews
If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by NAL (first published April 13th 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about If You Were Here, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about If You Were Here

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,078 ratings  ·  1,260 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jen's schtick is growing old for me. Predictable and far-fetched. The only thing that saved it for me was her tendency toward footnotes. I am a sucker for footnotes, it's like being in a meeting, lecture, sermon, etc, and having a very sarcastic* person sitting next to you whispering comments.

*and I know quite a few of these
Anne Marsh
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I love Jen Lancaster-- I really do. Her BITTER IS THE NEW BLACK is the first trade paperback I ever impulse-purchased from Borders and I never regretted it. She's made me howl with laughter while commuting (which has the added advantage of your seat mate inching over to give you more space). But this book... I'm just not sure how I feel about it. IF YOU WERE HERE is supposed to be a novel. It reads, however, like another of Jen's memoirs (which is not a bad thing). It certainly has Jen's tradema ...more
Wicked Lil Pixie (Natasha)
If you grew up in the 1970′s and 1980′s you know the impact John Hughes made. From National Lampoon to Home Alone, Uncle Buck to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, everyone has got a favorite John Hughes movie. You probably still stop what you are doing to watch The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink. You also wish Sam chose Duckie and not douche rocket Blane. I could go on for days. Apparently so can Jen Lancaster in her first foray into fiction.

Mia makes a living writing Amish Zombie novels and after som
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this first foray into fiction from Jen Lancaster. I've read all her previous books and they were great - because they were true. There was little character development because Jen feels we all know that the main character Mia is her and certainly we've read her other books. But, Jen, if this is fiction then you need to work to build real characters not just take from your own life and do a little bit of "what if this happened to me". I'll give Jen one more try at fiction an ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Do not read this book if you haven't ever purchased a house or watched a whole lot of HGTV. The real-estate lingo got old REAL fast, and this is coming from someone who HAS recently bought a house.

Also, don't read this book if you'll be distracted by the fact that it's supposed to be a "novel." Maybe some of the plot is fictionalized, but the main characters of "Mia" and "Mac" are very thinly disguised versions of "Jen" and "Fletch". Even the poor suckers who are friends with these "characters"
Sara Strand
Jul 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
OK. Now all of Jen's previous books had been memoirs, with my hands down favorite being Such a Pretty Fat. I've read every book of hers, but that one is hands down her best. Every book after it has gotten worse (for me) and basically feel as if she's trying too hard. The kicker is that she doesn't need to- she's a naturally funny person, but I feel like maybe she's done what she could with memoirs. So when it was announced she was doing a fiction book... I was thrilled.

Until I read it. First of
I don't want to blast Jen Lancaster out of the water, but I found this book tedious, self-indulgent, and unoriginal. Why did I keep listening after the first two chapters? I was hoping it would get better. I was encouraged by the John Hughes references and wanted to find out what would happen with it. I hate not finishing books I start. I am trying to hit 52 books this year and can't put down a book because it's not my taste. Which this isn't.

I don't like books with an excess of fleeting pop cul
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
Jen Lancaster usually writes humorous memoirs about her life with her husband and dogs, her family and friends. This is her first foray into writing fiction. Turns out it is a thinly-disguised story about her life with her husband and dogs, her family and friends. To be fair, I haven't read any of her other books and they are supposed to be quite good, or at least some of them are. She wrote Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy, along with a few others. Her style of writing would work better ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
If I'm being completely honest, the two star rating is probably not entirely fair. I suspect that had I not been a fan of Lancaster's breezy, snarky memoirs going into If You Were Here, her first work of fiction, I might have enjoyed it quite a bit more. But I am a fan of her memoirs, and despite my best efforts to enjoy Here on its own merits, I couldn't help but compare it to her previous material--and those comparisons most certainly did not help its star cause.

Lancaster takes the age-old wri
Laura Gurrin
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I totally love Jen Lancaster's non-fiction - and there were definitely parts of this book which made me laugh out loud, or read them aloud (to myself, I'll note; they were that good). It was a good read and a good story and I don't feel I wasted my time. But.

The great thing about Jen Lancaster's non-fiction is that you are getting a real person - for better or worse, and sometimes she's more worse - but she's robustly *real*, and that's apparent in her writing. She writes about herself openly a
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, humor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three stars for the novel, but a solid five stars for the audio version. So an average of four stars.

The narrator was PERFECT for the material, and Lancaster's footnotes were incorporated seamlessly into the story, thus saving me from the usual footnote fatigue that develops when reading Lancaster.

Like the other reviewers who show up on the Goodreads first page for this book, I enjoy Jen Lancaster's voice. I've read most of her memoirs, and will probably continue to read them.

And like other re
Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
i didn't realize when i checked this out of the library that it was a novel, & i admit it, my first reaction when i did realize it was, "ugh." i have written before about how i am not always the biggest fan of jen lancaster's middle-aged sorority girl republican-voting style, but at least in her (numerous) memoirs, she is confined to events that actually happened. i worried about what might happen when she was let loose in a fictional terrain. the answer: ...pretty much the exact same kind o ...more
Kate  Maxwell
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: looking to laugh out loud
First off, I do have to mention that you need to know a little about John Hughes and his movies, particularly ‘Sixteen Candles.’ The only reason I mention this is because it plays such a prominent part of the story. I loved the humor in this book, as it is quite over-the-top! Suspending reality helps to enjoy this story….as it is a story of home renovation gone WAY wrong!

Mia and Mac are tired of living in the city limits of Chicago, as they do not feel safe in the home they are renting from soci
Jun 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook, 2016
You guys (please add an extra syllable when you read that)! Having a lot of money and buying a huge, fancy, neglected mansion that needs fixing up is hard. Like really, really hard. Toilets fall through floors! There are ants! There are unreliable contractors! Whatever is a Mia to do? Luckily, she is the author of a completely implausible book series about Amish zombies that is, surprise, surprise being optioned into a movie! So let’s go ahead and drop millions into a home improvement project an ...more
Teena in Toronto
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the sixth book I've read by this author. I like her writing style ... it's funny and sarcastic. My one complaint about her style has always been her use of footnotes. I find them distracting having to look down then back up to find my spot. Just include them in the paragraph.

This is her first fiction ... the rest of have been memoirs of her life. Lancaster may as well have just kept real names as they are so similar ... I could definitely hear Lancaster's voice. Mia is really Jen; Mac is
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry. I wanted to like this book. I really did. But how long it took me to get through it is a testament to the contrary. The author has great skill in transcribing her character's thoughts into narration. the "thinking process" felt true and accurate. However, when it comes to what goes on inside our heads--the minute to minute, hour to hour drone--I think most of it ought to be left to the thinker. Frankly, I was not at all engaged with the main character, thus her internal conversations ...more
Rebekah O'Dell
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it
I love, love, love Jen Lancaster! Such a Pretty Fat is the first book I ever laughed out loud at in my whole life. She’s just one of those writers whom I will always read whether or not I’m interested in the book at face value. But I was nervous when I heard she was writing her first novel and making the jump to fiction. (Perhaps it’s just book snobbery — if it’s a memoir, it’s okay if I read it. If it’s a novel, then I really am reading chick lit.)

I was pleasantly surprised with If You Were Her
I am a huge Jen Lancaster fan, and her memoirs often make me laugh out loud. Her first foray into fiction was ok, but certainly not her best. The plot centers around Mia and Mac repairing a money pit of a house in Abington Cambs, the John Hughes hallowed grounds. Her war on Stephanie Meyers was hilarious- I loved the Amish Teen zombies in love jokes- and there were many laughs throughout. But because I have read all of her novels, and often read her blog, I know her reach into fiction wasn't rea ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me say this: I adore Jen Lancaster & gobble up her books as soon as they come out. Whereas I'd give most of her other works a shining 6 out of 5 stars, this one only gets 4. If you were a first-time reader of her books, perhaps you'd enjoy it more. But her characters so closely mirrored herself & husband & other friends her readers have come to know, it was hard to enjoy this as fiction. Also, some of her best, most identifying vehicles (footnotes, etc) that work so excellently i ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Be forwarned - you need to have watched the movie Sixteen Candles, watched HGTV religiously, read the Twilight series, know all the real estate shows and home repair shows and their cast AND have a subscription to US or People to get all of the REFERENCES (every line in the book) to current pop culture. Funny, yes. A book that will be quickly outdated - by tomorrow! Heaven help anyone who tries to read it without be familiar with the above - it wouldn't make any sense. It is like someone name dr ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This had cute moments but more than occasional bouts of humor, I mostly felt annoyed and frustrated with the book. It was just annoying, as if the author was trying way too hard. By the end, I was glad it was over.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This read as “my nonfiction was so successful, I’ll just repackage into a fiction formula”. The constant references to writing for a big paycheck hammered it home that the nonfiction ideas were likely running dry, so another revenue stream was needed. And, even though the 80’s were my teen years, I didn’t get any of the references. I recognized the movie names, but I don’t know that I ever watched any of them all the way through. I’m more of the Monty Python/Princess Bride type myself.
Karen Germain
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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 departur
Katie Kenig
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chicklit, humour
After reading a couple of books that I just didn't enjoy at all, I was starting to worry about myself. Was I burned out on reading? (Perish the thought!) Was I condemned to find reading a sad, tedious chore from now on? (Argh! As our protagonist would pronounce).

Then I thought okay, I'll go back to an author I know I love. Sometimes that doesn't work, but sometimes it does. And Jen Lancaster definitely makes me laugh. And this book was about home renovations. And John Hughes, sort of. And I lov
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious! Down to earth! And is a great novel! That is all I have to say...

Quick synopsis! Mia and her husband Mac love their current home... except for two things their landlord -- a wannabe Paris Hilton -- and the fact that they are suddenly in a war with a gangbanger neighbor who just happens to tag their garage! So amidst all odds, they decide to move after trying to buy their current home. So they spend weeks and weeks looking for a home... viola they find one... but boy is it a doozy! Th
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I love Jen Lancaster and if you have read her memoirs then this book will be very familiar to you. She has kept her signature snarkiness, hilarious footnotes and crazy pop culture references but put a fictional twist on the whole thing.

I gave Lancaster's memoirs five-stars, and I stand by that, because I love what she has done. I love her sense of humor and her writing style and because of that I started off with a five for this book too .. but I had to knock off a couple points and here's why:

May 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: bees, 2011
This book was the literary version of the fantastic 80s movie "The Money Pit" starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long: fun with disastrous home repairs at every turn.

Mac and Mia move into the home used for Jake Ryan's (oh, how I had a crush on Michael Scoeffling who played him, and was even hotter later on as Al in "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken") abode in the movie "Sixteen Candles" to live the suburban dream; however, things don't go exactly as planned with just about every issue imaginable affectin
Paula  Phillips
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
After years of writing memoirs , author Jen Lancaster has decided to put away her memoir hat and move to writing fiction books, though in a way they are loosely based still on hers and her husband Fletch's life as there were parts in If You Were Here that are similar to tales of woe in her latest memoir Jeneration X. In "If you were here" we meet husband and wife team Mac and Mia , they are in the pursuits of leaving their house in their rough suburb with Ornestga the spray painter who wears Spi ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was so excited to get my hands on Jen's first foray into fiction and wasn't disappointed!

It was oddly similar to her real life (the obsession with Stephenie Meyer AND John Hughes, the mold incident, the random things that could happen to no one else, etc.), but it worked. When I first caught wind of all these similarties I wondered how it would work - Mia, the main character, is a writer, married to a guy who sounds an awful lot like Fletch and the couple just bought a house which needed some
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. If You Were Here 1 4 Apr 12, 2012 05:32PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Good Enough to Eat
  • There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble
  • A Bump in the Road
  • Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back
  • It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)
  • The One That I Want
  • Always Something There to Remind Me
  • Your Big Break
  • The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out
  • The Botox Diaries
  • Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits
  • Pinch Me
  • The Boyfriend of the Month Club
  • American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Preserving Your Assets
  • Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp
See similar books…
Jen Lancaster is the author of her own memoirs including: as Bitter is the New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, Such A Pretty Fat, Pretty in Plaid, My Fair Lazy, and the newest: Jeneration X.

She has also dabbled with fiction in her first book, If You Were Here.
“You know why I love HGTV? It's not just that I get a peek into other people's lives. It's that everyone's always thrilled with the end result, whether they're redecorating an unfortunate room, selling a house, or cleaning up another contractor's mess. I love for a happy ending, and HGTV is perpetually upbeat and optimistic. The shows are all about problem solving, not drama creating.” 5 likes
More quotes…