Before I begin my review, please forgive me if you think this review kind of sucks. I have been in pain and pancreatic hell for the past week, and, because I basically suck and never finished writing the review for a book I read a month ago, I am power writing this review while starving during my prep (don’t ask!) and while also in physical pain. Please don’t let my semi-crappy review reflect a perception of Ms. Weiner’s book quality, because I totally loved this book, and you should go buy it!
Also, I can’t believe Jennifer Weiner wrote a book this good, while also dealing with the whole Hollywood thing, as she was co-creating, writing and executive producing her television show, State of Georgia, last summer. Jennifer, yo go, girl!
The Next Best Thing makes me wonder how good Jennifer’s show State of Georgia originally was, before the executives cut it down to what aired last summer. Man, L.A. seems like a rough place to work in. Actually, I know it is, but after reading this book, I have a whole new respect for seemingly crap non-reality shows that get cancelled right away, because for all we know, they were once fantastic.
This book is all about a girl’s dream to make it in Hollywood. What makes this story different from every other Hollywood book out there is that Ruth Saunders is a 28-year old woman who is trying to be a writer, not an actress. She isn’t skinny, she lives and hangs out with her grandmother, she isn’t skinny, and in Hollywood standards, she isn’t pretty, because she has a terrible scar on her face, from when her parents died in a fatal car crash. Ruth is the apple of her grandmother’s eye, and they moved out to L.A. together to try to make Ruth’s dreams come true. This book hit home with me because just like Ruth, I watched The Golden Girls with my grandmother, and began my own love affair with television during the glorious days of 1980′s sitcoms. Back when good shows about wholesome people were still the majority.
I had told myself to expect bad news; told myself, a thousand times, that the numbers were not in my favor. Each year, the network ordered hundreds of potential new programs, giving writers the thumbs-up and the money to go off and write a pilot script. Of those hundreds of scripts, anywhere from two to three dozen would actually be filmed, and of those, only a handful—maybe four, maybe six, maybe as many as ten—would get ordered to series. My sitcom, The Next Best Thing, loosely based on my own life with my grandmother, had made the first cut three months ago. I’d quit my job as an assistant at Two Daves Productions in order to work full-time on the script, progressing through the steps from a single-sentence pitch—a college graduate who’s been laid off and her grandmother who’s been dumped, move to an upscale assisted-living facility in Miami, where the girl tries to make it as a chef and the grandmother tries to live without a boyfriend—to a paragraph-long pilot summary, then a beat sheet detailing each scene, then a twelve-page outline, and, finally, a forty-page script.
Just because I used the word wholesome, I don’t want you to get scared of the book–Jennifer still manages to get her characters laid in this book. She still talks about food, and their struggles to overcome past hardships, and almost as challenging present-day hardships. What Ruth goes through in this book is tragic, but I love how Weiner ended Ruth’s story.
I loved the whole dynamic between the main character, Ruth, and her grandmother, or Nanna, as she is known in the book. As a girl (from the ghetto) who was partially raised by her great-grandmother, I can totally appreciate how much love and attention to detail Weiner puts into her grandmother characters, but especially Nanna in this book. I love that Nanna has a better love life and easier time making her own way in Hollywood (as an extra).
All I have left to say is that it is always a good sign when I read a book in one sitting!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood…
At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
To find out the dates and locations of her Jennifer’s CUPCAKES ACROSS AMERICA book tour, visit JenniferWeiner.com/Events.
Purchase your copy of The Next Best Thing: A Novel at Amazon.com.
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Purchase your paperback copy of Then Came You at Amazon.com.
To find out more about Jennifer, her books, The Next Best Thing and Then Came You, or her short story, Swim, visit her website, JenniferWeiner.com.
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