Trish's Reviews > The Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
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Jul 07, 2012

really liked it
Read in June, 2012

I like Jennifer Weiner. She's smart and isn't afraid to write for women about women's concerns, concentrating on our society's obsession with looks and the complications around childbearing. She's funny and charming and I like her style. One could accuse her of being conventional, and I admit to wanting a bit more edge to her writing, coming from a strong feminist background. But I think she gets to the heart of certain kinds of women's experiences in modern society with a very clear and emotionally accurate explorations of shame, fear, confidence, and uncertainty about female roles and the tyranny of beauty. So should we condemn her that her books have happy endings with the heroine finding love, and her plus-size and (in this case) facially disfigured protagonists finding some peace with themselves through that? The author speaks out constantly about the marginalization of women writers and fiction that addresses itself to women specifically - fighting hard against the dreaded "chick lit" designation. I must agree. Her books create kinship and a sense of normalcy that we share struggles as women and that is extremely valuable. Bonus that it's a breeze to read. I can't take sides entirely for one kind of writing above any other, so I'm not condemning any other kind of writing either - despite his disproportionate amount of media attention, Jonathan Franzen can ring my bell too. (I'm using his name as a token, as I've never read his books, but from his essays and interviews I can't help but think he'd be difficult company. All that Literary Meaning and Melancholy Genius. Sigh.)
So read it. It'll take a day or two at the most and you'll feel in good and compassionate company.
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