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If You Were Here

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  9,340 ratings  ·  1,285 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)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  9,340 ratings  ·  1,285 reviews

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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
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"
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
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
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
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chic-lit
I have to say.. it's like Jen Lancaster is in my head, which is frightening. I actually worry that she's telepathically channeling me (are you Jen?). This book was classic Lancaster, and I must say - Bravo on the 1st novel (Bravo the expression, not the network, though Lancaster would probably prefer the later). Jen's style - her quirky asides and her funny balls-out approach to writing are what keep me laughing - this time in a GM dealership while having my tires rotated and oil changed (and no ...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
May 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. I've read all the memoirs, and enjoyed them, they're often laugh-out-loud funny. This wasn't. I love the eighties too, but with so many pop culture references this book wouldn't stand the test of time even if it were good. The problem, in my opinion, was sloppy writing, and like many others have mentioned, it was too close to Lancaster's real life to be fiction. In fact the only reason I felt it was "fiction" was to give the author a chance to brag about her success in ...more
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.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
How did this get published? An airhead narrator that sits with a gun while she writes novels about teenage Amish zombies to compete with Twilight money who is so obsessed with John Hughes movies and white privilege that she wants to DIY a mansion.....okaayyyy then. And what the heck is happening with the footnotes? Two or three a page that are just stupid, absurd "aside" narrations. I bailed 12% in. I could feel my IQ dropping with every sentence. ...more
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 of bo ...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
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
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
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
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 in her nonfic ...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
Brandi Johnson
Apr 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: stay-away, unfinished
This is going to be really hard for me to write & to put out there because I'm such a HUGE fan of Lancaster's. But, unfortunately, this book did absolutely nothing for me.

In fact, I couldn't even finish it. It's been sitting at half-done for weeks and I finally made the decision to save the hours & brainspace it would take to finish it.

I am not a fan of her fiction. Maybe it's because I read her blog, maybe it's because I'm so used to her memoirs, but this entire book felt recycled. Most of the
May 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
I think I'm giving up on this one. I don't even really know what this book is about. It's like a reality show in book format about a couple who is searching for the perfect house. I guess they find the perfect house which just so happens to be the same house that "Jake" in the movie 16 candles lived in. They buy this house then it ends up being a hugh money pit. There are a bunch of foot notes which are often snarky references to pop culture. I was not a fan of that. I was bored and unimpressed. ...more
May 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm taking a break from this... because so far it's horrible. I LOVE her nonfiction. That being said, if she was going to write a fiction novel, she should have put a little effort into it! I can not take the thinly veiled references to her life and barely-changed names. It's a watered-down version of her hilarious memoirs without her funny snarkiness that made me a fan in the first place. I will probably finish because I love her. But I will never read another fiction book she writes. Stick to ...more
Jul 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Sorry I tried to read this book but I didn't like it and gave up. The descriptions of each house Mia viewed was boring me to death and the whole war with neighborhood gangs I honestly didn't get the point. The humor was dry and even though I understood her comments about the competition with Stephanie Meyer and wanting to buy Jake Ryan's house, it wasn't funny at all. I have never read anything by Jen Lancaster, so I guess I'm not a disappointed fan... I'm just plain disappointed. ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This bok will not get a full review and won't be posted on the blog. If You Were Here is definitely a book that is not our style. A book that bashes other authors even if written in fiction, just doesn't it cut it for us.

Amy Cloud
Jul 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
Beyond annoying. I can't relate to the complaints of a rich person trying to find their perfect mansion. And the look-how-clever-I-am footnotes pushed me over the edge. I only made it to chapter six. ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. If You Were Here 1 4 Apr 12, 2012 05:32PM  

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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.

Related Articles

Lancaster shared with Goodreads her favorite books that both revel in and rip off popular culture.
30 likes · 5 comments
“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…