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The Next Best Thing

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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 B 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.


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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 B 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.

30 review for The Next Best Thing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ronya

    Looks like I am in the minority here, but I expect more from Jennifer Weiner. The book club questions at the end of the book make it sound a lot smarter and deeper and more intellectual than it really was. I found this book to be rather boring, nothing like the JWeiner books of the past. The story was not something I found to be interesting (even though it was somewhat autobiographical) and I did not root for a single character. And, there were several instances of inconsistent details (like at Looks like I am in the minority here, but I expect more from Jennifer Weiner. The book club questions at the end of the book make it sound a lot smarter and deeper and more intellectual than it really was. I found this book to be rather boring, nothing like the JWeiner books of the past. The story was not something I found to be interesting (even though it was somewhat autobiographical) and I did not root for a single character. And, there were several instances of inconsistent details (like at the up fronts, Ruth is described as wearing a silk shirt, pants and ballet flats, which then turns into a skirt and, by the end of the night, it is a dress). For someone who usually doesn't pay close attention when reading, it was especially troublesome. I was really anticipating more and hope that, if she does write an 11th book, Weiner can harken back to her "Good in Bed" days and write something I will care about more than I did this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I struggled to FORCE myself to finish, "The Next Best Thing," by Jennifer Weiner. I fear Weiner has become a "has been" who is no more! Her early books were an assured good read ("Good in Bed," & "In Her Shoes" to name a few). The last 2 have been a chore, but I can't ignore one of her newly published books because I remember the joy the earlier ones brought me. From the start, I felt this one was written with the hope it would be made into a movie, as was "In Her Shoes." I hope that is not the c I struggled to FORCE myself to finish, "The Next Best Thing," by Jennifer Weiner. I fear Weiner has become a "has been" who is no more! Her early books were an assured good read ("Good in Bed," & "In Her Shoes" to name a few). The last 2 have been a chore, but I can't ignore one of her newly published books because I remember the joy the earlier ones brought me. From the start, I felt this one was written with the hope it would be made into a movie, as was "In Her Shoes." I hope that is not the case as this story was just BAD, unappealing (as were the characters) and left my brain as dead and bored as an old dried up sponge. The main character, Ruthie Saunders, was orphaned as a young girl and raised by her grandmother. Ruthie's parents died in an auto accident that left Ruthie permanently scarred, so that her face is unappealing. I found her personality far more distasteful than the descriptions of her face! Ruthie writes, and has longed to write a sit com based on her life with her grandmother. The bulk of the book is about the people involved in producing the tv show (the dumb, self absorbed actors, the studio heads, other writers, etc.) Ruthie makes bad choices in men, but becomes close friends with "the two Daves," one being called BIG Dave and the other, just Dave. Dave is in a wheelchair from an accident in HIS youth. Ruthie is interested in Dave but there is always another woman around him. Who cares? I did not care one iota about anyone in this story, expect perhaps the grandmother, who rescued little Ruthie so long ago. When it takes me 3 weeks to read a book, you KNOW it's a BAD, bad book!!!! I almost gave up on it, but having had good experiences with the author, decided it MIGHT get better. Wrong. And the ending? Oh boy. Weiner ends it in a way you say, "what? Is that it? Did she just slam a door in our faces and walk away without finishing?" Save your time and/or money. Run from this book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Hodge

    Ms. Weiner, it is time for you and I to part ways. This is the fourth book in a row that I have been disappointed with. Once again, the editing is abysmal and the story is just so-so. The first 100 pages of this novel are mostly back story and even when you finally get to the actual plot, you continue to flip flop with the back story. After reading such excellent books as Gone Girl where the back story is excellently woven into the plot, I find this novel boring and choppy. Don't get me wrong, i Ms. Weiner, it is time for you and I to part ways. This is the fourth book in a row that I have been disappointed with. Once again, the editing is abysmal and the story is just so-so. The first 100 pages of this novel are mostly back story and even when you finally get to the actual plot, you continue to flip flop with the back story. After reading such excellent books as Gone Girl where the back story is excellently woven into the plot, I find this novel boring and choppy. Don't get me wrong, it had momentary reminders of your previous greatness! For instance, the tension between Ruth and her love interest is great, but the characters are never developed, so I really don't care. There are 3 or 4 pages of kinda good story development and then, suddenly, it's 2 weeks later. Unfortunately, these fleeting moments were interspersed with Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon writing. I can't recall a single novel where you felt the need to write about sex in such detail. It was really quite smutty. I don't care where he puts his finger!!! I don't want to know what they are doing with the shower head!!! I can barely understand why they are so attracted (view spoiler)[aside from the fact they both have disablities (hide spoiler)] !!! I'm sad that you didn't feel your writing was good enough to stand on it's own and had to stoop to writing soft core porn. But maybe this would be a new genre for you... the smut parts were actually pretty good. As for the editing, just an example... Ruth goes to a party wearing slacks, leaves the party wearing a skirt, and eventually takes off a dress. Really??? And I must mention, I really don't need a description of every single thing every person is wearing. Whenever Ruth meets someone, whether or not they've already been introduced, she describes in full detail their entire wardrobe. It gets old real quick. I know I really shouldn't be comparing a beach read to a more literary novel like Gone Girl, but seriously, this book sucked. It sucked so bad that I am considering going back and re-reading Good in Bed and Little Earthquakes to figure out why I like this author so much to begin with.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tad

    Ok, I totally get why this book has so many bad reviews. I really do. Yet, I can't deny that I personally really enjoyed it. It felt like I was getting an insider's view of Hollywood and the production of a new TV show. As one of those people who religiously keeps up with celebrity gossip and pop culture, I just felt like I was a fly on the wall. I also found the main character here to be very appealing and relatable. Yes, she made some bad choices (especially with respect to men) but I think we Ok, I totally get why this book has so many bad reviews. I really do. Yet, I can't deny that I personally really enjoyed it. It felt like I was getting an insider's view of Hollywood and the production of a new TV show. As one of those people who religiously keeps up with celebrity gossip and pop culture, I just felt like I was a fly on the wall. I also found the main character here to be very appealing and relatable. Yes, she made some bad choices (especially with respect to men) but I think we've all done that so that was understandable. This book just really resonated with me for some reason that's hard to explain. It's not my favorite of Weiner's books. Good in Bed will always remain my favorite but this one really hit me. Proof that success hasn't gone to Weiner's head! I suspect quite a bit of this book is based on her own experiences during the production of her short-lived TV show. Sounds like she still hasn't entirely recovered from the experience! I've already started casting the film version of this! Anyone else envision Kaley Cuoco from "The Big Bang Theory" as Cady?!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This was ok. Jennifer Weiner likes to complain that male writers get more positive critical acclaim (like Jonathan Franzen---which is a big who cares? not me). But really they are a different caliber and guess what there are a lot of female authors who are worthy of more attention, you just really aren't one of them. This book was fine but face it Ruthie was not a terribly original character since she smacked of Tina Fey of the West Coast. And good for you for mentioning a Harry Crews book but t This was ok. Jennifer Weiner likes to complain that male writers get more positive critical acclaim (like Jonathan Franzen---which is a big who cares? not me). But really they are a different caliber and guess what there are a lot of female authors who are worthy of more attention, you just really aren't one of them. This book was fine but face it Ruthie was not a terribly original character since she smacked of Tina Fey of the West Coast. And good for you for mentioning a Harry Crews book but that does not cross you over into the realm of literary fiction. A lot could have been cut from this book. The main character was whiny and seemed to have the same inner dialogue almost constantly, she was painfully naive and stupidly predictable. The twist at the end was clever and very entertaining but rushed considering many pages were filled with, as I mentioned earlier, the same conversation. Luckily many pages were skim-able. Despite all my complaining and criticisms this book was entertaining chick-lit. I just needed to put it in its place. So there.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    I gave up on this one after 100 pages and too many inconsistencies to count. I finally cried "uncle" when the main character walked into the media room at her high school in the 1980's and it was filled with laptops. Really? I went to high school in the 80's and I am fairly certain the word laptop had not even been conceived at that point. I was disappointed in Weiner's last book and am afraid that she is now going down the path of other very popular authors, who get to the point of popularity w I gave up on this one after 100 pages and too many inconsistencies to count. I finally cried "uncle" when the main character walked into the media room at her high school in the 1980's and it was filled with laptops. Really? I went to high school in the 80's and I am fairly certain the word laptop had not even been conceived at that point. I was disappointed in Weiner's last book and am afraid that she is now going down the path of other very popular authors, who get to the point of popularity where they begin to phone it in- I think I will just enjoy the fact that I liked her earlier books and take her off my list of must-read authors.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    If you're desperate for a Jennifer Weiner fix, skip this one and reread Good in Bed. I'm giving this book an extra star out of respect for Weiner's past work. Her books mean summer to me... light but meaningful stories that make you feel like you've made a new friend. The Next Best Thing felt like reading the first draft submitted to the publisher. I actually checked the cover a few times to see if it really was printed for public consumption. Details like the 76 year old grandmother of the main If you're desperate for a Jennifer Weiner fix, skip this one and reread Good in Bed. I'm giving this book an extra star out of respect for Weiner's past work. Her books mean summer to me... light but meaningful stories that make you feel like you've made a new friend. The Next Best Thing felt like reading the first draft submitted to the publisher. I actually checked the cover a few times to see if it really was printed for public consumption. Details like the 76 year old grandmother of the main character being ten years older than her brother who is now "well into his 70s" cropped up constantly. The characters lacked the depth of Weiner's usual players and the plot plodded along predictably. At first I wanted to slap Ruthie, but eventually I just stopped caring. Once I realized that I felt no real concern for the outcome of any single conflict, I sort of skimmed the rest, which for me is nothing short of blasphemy. I really wanted to love this book. I'm not giving up on Weiner though; I just hope she slows down and puts some heart into the next one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    It's hard to believe such a sophomoric book like this got published. Jennifer Weiner is a pretty bad writer, rambling on and on about almost 400 pages of nothing instead of having a tightly-edited plot that is worth reading. It's like an 8th grader writing fiction that includes hip television references. You'll find yourself quickly skipping through pages to get past the dull parts. The book is supposed to be about a woman whose new television pilot gets produced, but it's filled with all sorts o It's hard to believe such a sophomoric book like this got published. Jennifer Weiner is a pretty bad writer, rambling on and on about almost 400 pages of nothing instead of having a tightly-edited plot that is worth reading. It's like an 8th grader writing fiction that includes hip television references. You'll find yourself quickly skipping through pages to get past the dull parts. The book is supposed to be about a woman whose new television pilot gets produced, but it's filled with all sorts of silly sidetracks, such as a grandmother who wastes hours each day as an extra on other shows, a boss she is in love with and her rather dull childhood. All of this is mixed together throughout the book so you don't know what you're getting from chapter to chapter. One minute she's writing about making the TV show, the next about her childhood friend, then followed by giving her first blowjob to a co-worker on a former TV series. One of the things that makes the least sense is that she mixes real TV series titles with fake ones. Why mention real show Gray's Anatomy in the same chapter as fake-named series like OR? It's distracting and inconsistent. The worst choice is that the author decided to have the heroine be the first-person narrator of the story. That voice is a combination snarky and naive, someone most readers won't be able to relate to. She talks a lot about her grandma (who raised her after her parents died when she was young) and she thinks Golden Girls was the greatest TV show ever made. If it all sounds trite, it is. Very little substance. There might be a few interesting behind-the-scenes moments regarding the making of a TV show, but that accounts for less than one-fifth of the book. Therefore, it deserves one out of five stars. Don't waste your time on it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Cagan

    I think I went in with pretty high expectations for this novel and it fell short. While some of the characters, like the Two Daves, were exceptionally well drawn (and they happened to remind me of a more-comedic Penn and Teller), they didn't help with what I found the major flaw: that the protagonist, Ruth, wasn't exceptionally likable. Ruth's given a tough lot in life and has a charming and modern-old-fashioned grandmother to help guide her through it, but she still comes off as a victim - and I think I went in with pretty high expectations for this novel and it fell short. While some of the characters, like the Two Daves, were exceptionally well drawn (and they happened to remind me of a more-comedic Penn and Teller), they didn't help with what I found the major flaw: that the protagonist, Ruth, wasn't exceptionally likable. Ruth's given a tough lot in life and has a charming and modern-old-fashioned grandmother to help guide her through it, but she still comes off as a victim - and way too often. Instead of watching her grow into a stronger woman, her anxieties continue to spiral and spin in on themselves. This may have been Weiner's intention, but it felt somewhat like lazy and repetitive writing. The issue of "self-doubt about getting a TV show and then maintaining the TV show" was tackled over and over again, so much so that it lost it's impact for me. And she never really seemed to care about her grandmother's big event (no spoilers) - or it was just left on the sideline often. It would have been compelling to give Ruth more internal conflicts, to see her care more deeply and be less self-absorbed than she actually was throughout her story. And it would have been really interesting to see the Grandmother and Ruth have to confront their changing relationship, not just avoid it around each other. I felt like that chapter was written, and left out of the book for some reason. I'm a big believer in Weiner's writing and I loved Little Earthquakes. But this one didn't do it for me, unfortunately.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really wanted to like Ruth. I related to her close relationship with her grandmother (I spent at least 25% of my time living with my great-grandmother until I graduated high school), and I sympathized with the difficulties her disfigurement caused her (because we all know a Jennifer Weiner protagonist has to be “damaged” in some way). But that was pretty much it. I didn’t love her, and I feel like I only rooted for her because the author told m I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really wanted to like Ruth. I related to her close relationship with her grandmother (I spent at least 25% of my time living with my great-grandmother until I graduated high school), and I sympathized with the difficulties her disfigurement caused her (because we all know a Jennifer Weiner protagonist has to be “damaged” in some way). But that was pretty much it. I didn’t love her, and I feel like I only rooted for her because the author told me to. The book has its good points. The peek inside the world of sitcom production was enlightening (if at all accurate), and I enjoyed Ruth’s attempts at managing her cast. I also really liked the Two Daves, if you remove the parts of that storyline that were wrapped up a little too conveniently (*cough* Dave’s girlfriend *cough*). But there was entirely too much foreshadowing in the construction of the story. I wish it had been told more linearly, so I could be surprised when disaster came, rather than reading the equivalent of “so, that didn’t exactly work out, here’s what happened”. Was it a triumphant ending? Eh, yes and no. Overall, the book was good enough, but not great. Kinda like Ruth’s sitcom.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa B.

    My Thoughts: The book was HUGELY entertaining. It has such a nice mix of Ruth’s contemplative thoughts, day - to - day activities and laugh out loud comments. The story flowed nicely and I enjoyed all of the characters, especially the two Daves (you’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about). When I finished the last page and closed the book, I thought - Yippee, add another name to my list of author’s I want to read more. Don’t ask me why it has taken me this long to read a Jennifer W My Thoughts: The book was HUGELY entertaining. It has such a nice mix of Ruth’s contemplative thoughts, day - to - day activities and laugh out loud comments. The story flowed nicely and I enjoyed all of the characters, especially the two Daves (you’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about). When I finished the last page and closed the book, I thought - Yippee, add another name to my list of author’s I want to read more. Don’t ask me why it has taken me this long to read a Jennifer Weiner book, but as they say - better late than never! Now I am going in search of her other books. Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read this ARC for an unbiased review. Publish date: July 10, 2012.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    This book was not at all what I expected. Too buried in morose and repetitive details and references to the main character's facial disfigurement, it doesn't let you get swept away by the story. Instead, it's a constant reminder that the story is about a girl whose face is disfigured. I expected something fun, playful, engaging, but found myself having to skip whole sections because they were so depressing. Plus Ruth's disturbing obsessions with the men she falls for made her look like a patheti This book was not at all what I expected. Too buried in morose and repetitive details and references to the main character's facial disfigurement, it doesn't let you get swept away by the story. Instead, it's a constant reminder that the story is about a girl whose face is disfigured. I expected something fun, playful, engaging, but found myself having to skip whole sections because they were so depressing. Plus Ruth's disturbing obsessions with the men she falls for made her look like a pathetic 12 year old girl. There's some nice stuff in the book, and I really wish the story about Ruth and her Grandmother would have been carried thru more fully, as it was the one aspect that felt real. Overall, I was disappointed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Neha

    Definitely had potential with your atypical protagonist and love interest in a chick lit - we actually have characters who are disfigured and disabled (instead of your normal nonexistent flaws in lead characters). However, I never fell in love with Ruth, despite her background, and felt she was pretty bitter and judgmental . (view spoiler)[And, WTH was with the snooping around Dave's computer, office, and home? There's facebook stalking and then there's being a full-fledged stalker (hide spoile Definitely had potential with your atypical protagonist and love interest in a chick lit - we actually have characters who are disfigured and disabled (instead of your normal nonexistent flaws in lead characters). However, I never fell in love with Ruth, despite her background, and felt she was pretty bitter and judgmental . (view spoiler)[And, WTH was with the snooping around Dave's computer, office, and home? There's facebook stalking and then there's being a full-fledged stalker (hide spoiler)] I also had a really hard time rooting for Ruth's show to work, because the premise seemed awful, honestly, and I felt that Weiner's bitterness from State of Georgia being cancelled was reflected in her constantly blaming the networks executives. There were a couple of random anecdotes about the TV business that seemed to tell the stories of Charlie Sheen and Andrew Goldman. pretty major spoilers: (view spoiler)[ - I thought that it was completely hilarious/unrealistic that Ruth's pilot was offered a pickup from CW, as they are known for casting ONLY beautiful young actors/actresses, and can't imagine them doing a show with a size 22 lead - I get that Dave was simply being a beard for his current girlfriend, but how does that explain all of his past beautiful girlfriends that Ruth had talked about? They couldn't all be using him, so why would he need escorts? And, if he was so in love with Ruth, why didn't he ever make the first move? - Didn't really understand Ruth's ability to make fun of somebody's acne, when she herself had a scarred face. I get that she was just a teenager, but she didn't seem to have any regret when recalling high school. (hide spoiler)]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm so disappointed in this book. I was excited to read it because I thought that "Swim" was captivating as a short story. To me it feels like Jennifer Weiner took a great short story and used is as a vehicle to vent about a personal experience rather than take the time to develop real characters and situations (case in point - I think that if I had as many self-esteem issues as the author portrays Ruth to have the fact that my love interest regularly consorted with prostitutes would be a little I'm so disappointed in this book. I was excited to read it because I thought that "Swim" was captivating as a short story. To me it feels like Jennifer Weiner took a great short story and used is as a vehicle to vent about a personal experience rather than take the time to develop real characters and situations (case in point - I think that if I had as many self-esteem issues as the author portrays Ruth to have the fact that my love interest regularly consorted with prostitutes would be a little more shattering. Ruth seems to nod if off "Oh, well that makes sense"). Is the irony lost on anybody else that in writing a book about how 'normal' women need more attention in media-at-large one of the story's most focused plot lines is on a dramatic weight loss? And what the hell was going on with the graphic sex scenes? I'm not a prude and while they were pretty well written they felt COMPLETELY disjointed with the rest of the story. Who writes about 'pity head' and how many fingers a man in inserting into a vagina in a 'heartfelt' novel about a girl and her grandmother?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Russell

    I feel for Jennifer Weiner, in a way--I really do. She's a powerhouse, a brand, and I have no doubt that her publisher demands a book a year from her. She must write quickly, and well, to sustain her enormous fan base. That said, this feels like a hasty effort. Not only did I have to wonder where her editor's mind was when polishing the book (the book, as a whole, is repetitious), I didn't engage with the protagonist, Ruth Saunders, as I engaged with all of Weiner's richly drawn, hilarious and w I feel for Jennifer Weiner, in a way--I really do. She's a powerhouse, a brand, and I have no doubt that her publisher demands a book a year from her. She must write quickly, and well, to sustain her enormous fan base. That said, this feels like a hasty effort. Not only did I have to wonder where her editor's mind was when polishing the book (the book, as a whole, is repetitious), I didn't engage with the protagonist, Ruth Saunders, as I engaged with all of Weiner's richly drawn, hilarious and warm main characters in her previous novels. Ruth comes across as self-pitying, even melodramatic, and her journey feels shallow. The sex scenes, which I usually find that Weiner writes well, are a bit too Fifty Shades of Lame for my taste. I adored the relationship between Ruth and her grandmother, and Weiner creates a strong character in "Little Dave," but the link between Ruth's scars and Dave's disability is so obvious it seems trite and false. I hope Ms. Weiner spends more time and thought on her next novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Fagin

    I really look forward to Jennifer Weiner's books. However - it seems when an author feels the need to grind out a book every year - this may be the result. I felt no connection with the characters, the relationship between the main character and her grandmother was a rehash (and a bad one at that) of another of her character relationships and the constant repetition of all the things that have gone wrong in the main characters life was maddening. I was very disappointed. The plot seemed like it w I really look forward to Jennifer Weiner's books. However - it seems when an author feels the need to grind out a book every year - this may be the result. I felt no connection with the characters, the relationship between the main character and her grandmother was a rehash (and a bad one at that) of another of her character relationships and the constant repetition of all the things that have gone wrong in the main characters life was maddening. I was very disappointed. The plot seemed like it would be compelling and Weiner's previous books have characters who have depth. This book reads like the author simply phoned it in.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carly R

    I really wanted to like this novel, because I enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's earlier books like In Her Shoes and Good in Bed. Sadly, the poor editing job was so distracting, I had trouble liking it at all. At some point, I kept reading only to see what logistical impossibilities I would encounter next. For instance: If the grandmother is 76 and her brother is 10 years younger, then how is he "well into his seventies" a few pages later, when no time has passed? Later, we meet Maya, who is in her early I really wanted to like this novel, because I enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's earlier books like In Her Shoes and Good in Bed. Sadly, the poor editing job was so distracting, I had trouble liking it at all. At some point, I kept reading only to see what logistical impossibilities I would encounter next. For instance: If the grandmother is 76 and her brother is 10 years younger, then how is he "well into his seventies" a few pages later, when no time has passed? Later, we meet Maya, who is in her early forties. She has an 8-year old, yet became pregnant with said 8-year old when she was 39. Maybe I shouldn't be doing math problems while reading chick lit, but come on! Why did the author go to the trouble of describing the short-term rental apartment when they seemed to find a long-term rental during the first three days in California while they were still staying in the hotel in Beverly Hills? Did they ever live in the short-term rental? I have no idea. Why do I need to know about every outfit the grandmother wears in excruciating detail? I get it. She's put together and the granddaughter isn't. This isn't a TV script where you need to describe each outfit for the costume department. Which brings me to another point. Weiner seems to use this book as therapy for her probably negative experience in Hollywood with her TV show State of Georgia, which I gather ran for only one season. Nothing about her behind-the-scenes look in this book was revelatory. I'm pretty sure that 30 Rock has done a better job of skewering television networks and depicting zany sitcom writers. And the references to The Golden Girls and Pretty Woman were frequent and unnecessary. Perhaps Weiner would have been better served writing some fan fiction where Blanche Devereaux and Richard Gere get it on. And then there is the scene where the main character wears pants, then a skirt, then a dress, all in the same night, whilst never once changing her clothes. Seriously, author? Editor? You failured on this one. Much like Jane Green, Weiner's novels seem to get worse with each publication. Maybe they should have more time in their contracts before pumping out the next book? Or maybe the wrong version of The Next Best Thing was sent to the printer and this will all be resolved with the second imprint? We can only hope.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Was this the funniest book Weiner has ever written? No. Was it the most infuriating? YES. In this book we meet Ruth, a writer-wannabe-TV-producer who was disfigured as a child in a car crash that also took her parents lives. Ruth moves to Los Angeles with her grandmother, who has been her only parent since the accident. Ruth has a boring boyfriend but a great job working as an assistant to two high-level TV producers - Big Dave and Little Dave. Ruth has a huge crush on Little Dave, who is so name Was this the funniest book Weiner has ever written? No. Was it the most infuriating? YES. In this book we meet Ruth, a writer-wannabe-TV-producer who was disfigured as a child in a car crash that also took her parents lives. Ruth moves to Los Angeles with her grandmother, who has been her only parent since the accident. Ruth has a boring boyfriend but a great job working as an assistant to two high-level TV producers - Big Dave and Little Dave. Ruth has a huge crush on Little Dave, who is so named because he is wheelchair-bound, having been paralyzed in a boating accident as a teen. (See a trend here?) Both Daves bring the humor to this book, which is about Ruthie's journey towards producing her own show. Ruth's script, "The Next Best Thing", gets picked up, and she goes into a hurricane of activity. The frustrating thing about the book is, nothing seems to go right for Ruth. As she's setting up her show, she CONSTANTLY gives in to pressure on replacing actors, letting bad takes go because people are getting tired, not fighting for the story she wrote vs the story everyone else seems to want her TV to be. The good news is that it's this kind of writing, and depth of character, that can make you FEEL so infuriated for/at Ruthie. You end up rooting for her but also wishing you could lend her some backbone. Cady, who is cast as the lead of Ruthie's show, is so annoying and out of it that you'd like to wring her neck. Ruthie's grandmother ends up being very much a supporting character, so you don't experience too much of her throughout the book. The Daves were my personal favorite characters, with their witty dialogue, closeness, and willingness to help Ruth. I will say that this book had the raciest scenes I can remember of any Weiner book I've read - that being said, they still weren't x-rated. Definitely a frustrating but enjoyable read, I had a hard time putting it down. Weiner is keeping her hot streak going, in my estimation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stacylane19

    I hold a soft spot in my heart for Jennifer Weiner. While I was pregnant, I read "Good in Bed" and found it to be a revelation. I had never - and let me blame hormones here - laughed or cried so hard while reading a book. Since then, I have always championed her writing and bought her books the moment they hit the shelves. The last few books, well... I haven't loved. I felt she was fulfilling a contractual obligation. Everything was just "okay," and went neatly in place on the bookshelf. And so w I hold a soft spot in my heart for Jennifer Weiner. While I was pregnant, I read "Good in Bed" and found it to be a revelation. I had never - and let me blame hormones here - laughed or cried so hard while reading a book. Since then, I have always championed her writing and bought her books the moment they hit the shelves. The last few books, well... I haven't loved. I felt she was fulfilling a contractual obligation. Everything was just "okay," and went neatly in place on the bookshelf. And so while I found this a refreshing glimpse at the Weiner I first loved, this book was still fraught with issues. Several of them were just silly anachronisms - there were NO laptops or iPads in the early nineties, and Ruth, our main orphaned character with a facial disfigurement, dresses in pants, which later are a skirt, which at the end of the night morph into a dress that she takes off. (Spoiler alert) Then there is Little Dave, her boss. The "unrequited crush" on him, well, it isn't. It is requited, yet there are no scenes in the book that hint at mixed messages and feelings, nothing which anchors them emotionally and shows us that it will indeed happen. She goes to his house crying - textbook - he consoles her and there is a sex scene, from which she then flees, and acts like a teenager. All the while, the reader is shown clearly that Dave is visibly upset, but Ruth ignores it. Presto, Big Dave tells Ruth that Little Dave loves her. Love? Yes, love. It was all too rushed, even though we had back story. (Spoiler alert) Ruth is a likable character, but there is a bitterness in Weiner's writing which never actually makes you believe that Ruth accepts herself for not being the Hollywood norm. Wouldn't it have been nice to see Ruth become friends with one of the "TV normal" actresses? Instead, Weiner makes Cady, the lead actress, lose weight and then cry and whine and moan about not wanting anyone to ever see her "fat" again on television, when she never was. Instead, we could have read that she had a youth filled with weight struggles, been teased and tormented and then transformed herself for Hollywood. Ruth could have had someone to bond with and wouldn't seem so jaded about attractive people, and it wouldn't have been a stretch, either. I never did see Weiner's short lived ABC Family show, "State of Georgia." I did enjoy reading about the blood and toil that goes in to writing a show, and writing for a show. I have heard time and again that the writer's vision is never what actually happens in the end (if any of you read Jodi Picoult's devastating "My Sister's Keeper," and then saw the dreck of a movie that spiraled from it, you know what I'm talking about). So in that respect Weiner showed her readers a new world, and most likely what happened to her own show. But the writing seems as though it came from a world that jaded her, that reminded her about her own weight issues, that made her feel superfluous. Ruth comments that Cady and Taryn have a shelf life in Hollywood, that their looks will fade and their careers will follow, but I'm not sure we truly see her self-acceptance. It is a fun book, wrapped up with a neat little bow; there is a melancholy about it, something bittersweet, but even still, I will always have a place in my heart and on my bookshelf for Jennifer Weiner.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Wow. This is kind of difficult because I don’t know where to start. First off, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that I LOVED the book. The minute you start reading any of Jen’s books, the words just seem to suck you in. It was definitely refreshing that Jen wrote the book in the first person. I tend to actually enjoy books more when written in the first person. It’s like you can almost see what’s inside of them and feel what they feel. Even though I’m not an entertainment junkie per se, Wow. This is kind of difficult because I don’t know where to start. First off, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that I LOVED the book. The minute you start reading any of Jen’s books, the words just seem to suck you in. It was definitely refreshing that Jen wrote the book in the first person. I tend to actually enjoy books more when written in the first person. It’s like you can almost see what’s inside of them and feel what they feel. Even though I’m not an entertainment junkie per se, I do every now and then flip through People or US Weekly at the grocery check out line...or I just might “like” them on Facebook (don’t tell anyone). That being said, it was interesting to get a look into what happens in the lives of celebrities off camera and behind the scenes. It was fun reading the back and forth banter in the writers' room, which kind of reminded me of the scenes in 30 Rock that take place in that room. I haven’t admired a heroine of a novel, as much as I admire Ruth, in a long time. It takes such an extreme level of courage and determination to persevere through so much adversity when one has had so many setbacks like Ruth during her childhood. I cannot imagine for the life of me having a huge scar taking up most of one side of my face. I remember not being able to look at myself in the mirror when I had chicken pox. There were marks all over my face. As I’m writing this now, I’m thinking people put so much energy and money into making themselves look better, all the while they should appreciate what they already have, when there are people out there who have it a lot worse. The more I got to know Ruth’s grandmother, the more I fell in love with her. She has many of same qualities as both of my grandmothers did. Both of them made the best yummy Jewish foods, including matzo ball soup, noodle kugel, tzimmes, brisket, potato latkes and many more delectable dishes. She also reminds me of my mother too. Just like Ruth’s grandmother, my mother used to (and sometimes still does) takes care of me just a little too much. Sometimes I wanted to tell her “GIVE THE GIRL SOME SPACE.” I’d like to leave you with one final thought. Ruth says on page 353 “…in this life you didn’t get perfect.” Life is not perfect and it will never be. The more you work on perfection, the deeper you will fall into misery. Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at what you have, and realize “my life might not be picture-perfect, but it’s the next best thing.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samantha March

    Ah, a new Jennifer Weiner book. Who wouldn’t be excited to get that in the mail? This is the tenth book from the best-selling author, and one of my many favorites from her. The title is The Next Best Thing, which is also the title of a television series that Ruth Saunders wrote and is about to see on the air. Ruth moved from Massachusetts to LA at age twenty-three with her grandmother, a spit-fire lady with a killer fashion sense and who only wants to see Ruth happy. After six years of mundane j Ah, a new Jennifer Weiner book. Who wouldn’t be excited to get that in the mail? This is the tenth book from the best-selling author, and one of my many favorites from her. The title is The Next Best Thing, which is also the title of a television series that Ruth Saunders wrote and is about to see on the air. Ruth moved from Massachusetts to LA at age twenty-three with her grandmother, a spit-fire lady with a killer fashion sense and who only wants to see Ruth happy. After six years of mundane jobs and pouring her heart and soul into her vision, she gets The Call. Her sitcom has been green-lighted; her dream is coming true. Ruth quickly learns that her idyllic vision of a down-to-earth show about a young woman and her grandmother is not what TV execs want. Where Ruth wants a “normal” looking girl (not a twig, not a flawless beauty) the big-wigs want “TV-pretty” (rail thing and flawless beauty). The clashes don’t stop there, and Ruth wonders if she can survive in the cutthroat world of Hollywood and TV sitcoms. I really enjoyed this book, and had it read in just over a day. What I thought was so interesting was that Weiner recently had her own stint with a TV sitcom; she was the co-creator and co-executive producer on the ABC sitcom State of Georgia, which aired in 2011 (and was later cancelled). So it was great for me as the reader to understand that I was truly getting a behind-the-scenes glance at how a sitcom is made. And wow – I’ve never had an urge to write a TV show, but now I really don’t! All kidding aside, the work, sweat, tears, frustrations, etc, that go into it is just mind-boggling. I found myself being mad as hell alongside Ruth, wanting to cry when she was sad, and tapping my fingers anxiously while awaiting to hear whether the show was going to continue or be axed. Beyond all that, there was also a fabulous love story both with Ruth and her grandmother, and the happy endings were well-deserved. And then there was the story of Ruth’s disfigurement from a car accident when she was a toddler. The tears dripped down my face when Ruth wrote the words I’ll never be beautiful after enduring multiple facial surgeries. There is a lot happening in this book, but the sub-plots click into place with an ease readers have come to expect from Weiner, and this book is on my Favorites List with a 5 star review!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Underwood

    From my blog: "The story follows Ruth, a woman following her dreams of screen writing a TV show in Los Angeles. However, it goes so much further than just the TV show. There are very detailed accounts of her past, which draw the reader further into the story. The story was captivating, well written, and kept me interested from beginning to end. Once again, Weiner has captured real emotions to make her protagonist(s) relatable. Ruth is a strong, inspirational woman overcoming obstacles to reach her From my blog: "The story follows Ruth, a woman following her dreams of screen writing a TV show in Los Angeles. However, it goes so much further than just the TV show. There are very detailed accounts of her past, which draw the reader further into the story. The story was captivating, well written, and kept me interested from beginning to end. Once again, Weiner has captured real emotions to make her protagonist(s) relatable. Ruth is a strong, inspirational woman overcoming obstacles to reach her dreams, the ultimate one being happiness. I laughed and cried along with Ruth, feeling my heart leap with her triumphs, and my stomach falling with her hardships. Like with all of Weiner’s other stories, I found myself relating to the protagonist and rooting for her throughout the entire book. (I would love to see her write a book where she incorporated all of her main characters into one story… now THAT would be an incredible show of womanhood!) :) One of my favorite aspects of “The Next Best Thing” is that I did not feel like I was simply reading a story; I felt like I was hearing it from a friend. Weiner’s voice as a writer is so friendly and captivating that it’s very easy to get caught up in the stories. I was so sad when the story ended … but at the same time I realize that the book couldn’t have gone on forever, and I was content with how everything turned out. I look forward to more books from Jennifer Weiner — for years, her stories have inspired me to be the best woman I can be, and to write! This book also made me want to pick up and re-read all of her other books, which will absolutely happen soon! (For anyone looking to read “The Next Best Thing,” I urge you to start with Weiner’s short story “Swim,” available for download through Amazon.)"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy Stone

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I like Jennifer Weiner. I have enjoyed many of her books, her blog, her tweets. I did enjoy this book. The story was good enough to keep me engaged, and I was rooting for Ruthie. But I was a little disappointed. To be fair, I had high expectations. I'm a lover of pop culture and TV especially, and I was quite excited to read a Jennifer Weiner book that seemed like it would be an inside look into making a TV show. I knew Mrs. Weiner had written a TV show called State of Georgia, which I thought w I like Jennifer Weiner. I have enjoyed many of her books, her blog, her tweets. I did enjoy this book. The story was good enough to keep me engaged, and I was rooting for Ruthie. But I was a little disappointed. To be fair, I had high expectations. I'm a lover of pop culture and TV especially, and I was quite excited to read a Jennifer Weiner book that seemed like it would be an inside look into making a TV show. I knew Mrs. Weiner had written a TV show called State of Georgia, which I thought was awful. So I was interested to see what she had to say in the book. I've always felt like her books were a little bit biographical in some way. Maybe my perspective of loving her but hating the TV show clouded my judgement of this book, but I felt like the whole book was just one big long excuse for why State of Georgia was terrible. (And there wasn't really even any good gossip! Aside from the obvious Renee/Jackee character, there didn't seem to be any good dirt. At least not anything that I could say definitively, which was probably the point.) I had a few other problems with this book too. The central conflict between Ruthie and her grandmother seemed contrived. Why wouldn't Ruthie have just come out and told her Grandmother what happened with the show? Why was she scared to say that it wasn't coming out the way she wanted it? It made no sense to me. And you knew from the beginning that she was going to end up with Little Dave, so the whole thing with her running away from him was just frustrating. Seems like there could have been a better reason to keep them apart. It just seemed lazy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rory O'Connor

    I want to start this by saying I generally have enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s books. Particularly, Good in Bed is a really fun read. That being said, The Next Best Thing isn’t nearly as good as some of her previous work. Ruth Saunders has had a tough life. When she was a child, she and her parents were in a car accident that sent Ruthie flying through the windshield and killing her parents. Although she survived, she’s had to endure several operations and quite a bit of pain, leaving her permanently I want to start this by saying I generally have enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s books. Particularly, Good in Bed is a really fun read. That being said, The Next Best Thing isn’t nearly as good as some of her previous work. Ruth Saunders has had a tough life. When she was a child, she and her parents were in a car accident that sent Ruthie flying through the windshield and killing her parents. Although she survived, she’s had to endure several operations and quite a bit of pain, leaving her permanently disfigured. She’s never found the confidence to believe she is beautiful and it is something that hinders her throughout the story. After college, Ruthie moves to California to be a television writer. It takes her years to get a break. Even then, everything is not what she expected it to be. She envies how easy her grandmother assimilates to the west coast, she pines after her boss, and her show is not headed in the direction she dreamed. Given the genre of the novel, I won’t tell you the ending, but you might be able to guess! While this novel is fine (I debated between 2.5 and 3 stars), it is not as memorable or good as her earlier work. Ruthie is hard to root for, but perhaps she was just TOO insecure for my taste. I did, however, enjoy the two Daves. They are the best part of the book and the most well developed characters. I was rooting for Ruthie and Dave to be able to get past their issues; it was definitely the most intriguing part of the novel and kept me reading. Overall, The Next Best Thing is, simply, fine. If you’re looking to break into Jennifer Weiner’s books, start with Good in Bed and Little Earthquakes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms

    *I got a free copy from the publisher via netgalley in order to review this book* This and other reviews can be found on my blog(un)Conventional Bookviews. The Next Best Thing is simply delightful! It’s the only word I can use to describe it accurately. It tickled my funny bones, tugged at my heartstrings and made me root for Ruthie from the first sentence. All of the main characters seem so real to me that I wish they existed in real life. Ruthie needs a girlfriend, and I want to be that for her. *I got a free copy from the publisher via netgalley in order to review this book* This and other reviews can be found on my blog(un)Conventional Bookviews. The Next Best Thing is simply delightful! It’s the only word I can use to describe it accurately. It tickled my funny bones, tugged at my heartstrings and made me root for Ruthie from the first sentence. All of the main characters seem so real to me that I wish they existed in real life. Ruthie needs a girlfriend, and I want to be that for her.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Calliss

    2.5 rounded down, because I was left with a “huh?” feeling. I am not really sure what the point with this book is, the story itself, did not really peak at anytime. It was rather dull and only had a few entertaining moments. The characters lacked depth and I constantly felt like something was missing when reading about them - I never got a chance to really care. But facts aside, the story had a little something now and then, so I did not realise the “waste of time”, until the end.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne (It's All About Books)

    Finished reading: December 29th 2014 “You don't get perfect-but I was going to grab this happiness and hold it as tightly as I could. I was going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted.” (view spoiler)[ I had promised myself to start using my TBR jar again as soon as I finished the Bookish Bingo challenge. I guess that didn't work out the way I planned... Instead of getting a nice surprise and a refreshing read, I got The Next Best Thing. Which ended up being closer to my next worst nightm Finished reading: December 29th 2014 “You don't get perfect-but I was going to grab this happiness and hold it as tightly as I could. I was going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted.” (view spoiler)[ I had promised myself to start using my TBR jar again as soon as I finished the Bookish Bingo challenge. I guess that didn't work out the way I planned... Instead of getting a nice surprise and a refreshing read, I got The Next Best Thing. Which ended up being closer to my next worst nightmare than anything else. Sure, a contemporary romance novel isn't exactly my cup of tea in most cases and the problem with this book could have been me. Still I struggled and had to literally force myself to finish this book, crossing my fingers things would get better later on. Unfortunately, the tremendous amount of cliches, boring characters and bad storyline in general just make me think I've wasted my time reading this book. If you are into contemporary romance, you might like this novel by Jennifer Weiner, who knows? But if you don't, it's best to stay far away from The Next Best Thing. Ruth Saunders was left without parents and with terrible scars on her face and body after an accident when she was a little girl. She was raised by her grandmother and now that she has grown up, she is determined to make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood. She moves to Los Angeles with her grandmother and soon discovers it is harder than she thought to get a job without the typical pretty face... And while she gets a job in the end writing for a different show, this is not what her dream is. She has written her own show, The Next Best Thing, and desperately tries to convince the big guys of approving her show. When she finally succeeds and she gets the green light to run her own show, she doesn't realize things won't go as she had planned initially. Soon enough the show she had originally written is being altered piece by piece, leaving it without its original message. And there is nothing Ruth can do about it. And not only that, certain men are causing her problems and try to break her heart... Even writing the short summary made me realize how much I disliked The Next Best Thing and I wonder how I managed to finish this novel. I've heard Jennifer Weiner's earlier books are way better, but I don't think I will give those a try after having read this one. The cliches, bad storytelling and boring characters just ruined it for me. It might have been a case of not-for-me, but unless you love contemporary romance and cliches, my advice would be to stay away from this one. (hide spoiler)] P.S. Find more of my reviews here.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I'm going to tell you fine people right up front: I have a MAJOR girl crush on Jennifer Weiner. Like, MAJOR. Ever since Good in Bed, I have lapped up her books like a chocoholic at a Godiva sale. The Next Best Thing (not to be confused with the Kristan Higgins book with the same title) is FABULOUS, and I would think that even if I didn't know that Jennifer Weiner wrote it. Ruth Saunders is nearing 30 and still living with her grandmother. It's a comfortable arrangement sprung from tragedy: Ruth's I'm going to tell you fine people right up front: I have a MAJOR girl crush on Jennifer Weiner. Like, MAJOR. Ever since Good in Bed, I have lapped up her books like a chocoholic at a Godiva sale. The Next Best Thing (not to be confused with the Kristan Higgins book with the same title) is FABULOUS, and I would think that even if I didn't know that Jennifer Weiner wrote it. Ruth Saunders is nearing 30 and still living with her grandmother. It's a comfortable arrangement sprung from tragedy: Ruth's parents died when she was a little girl, and the accident that killed them left Ruth with a host of broken bones, including some on her face. The ensuing surgeries have marked her, both outwardly (the left side of her face is wracked with scars) and inwardly. Ruth fears she will never be beautiful. Not that she lets such worries consume her. After graduating from college, Ruth and her grandma head west, where Ruth toils in obscurity as an assistant to a television writer. When her attempt at a romance with her boss goes horribly awry (as those things tend to do), she quits, eventually landing a job with Big Dave and Little Dave, a pair of writers who value her intellect and input. In true Ruthie form, she finds herself crushing on Little Dave, himself a victim of an accident that left him in a wheelchair. As a Hollywood satire, this is close to brilliant. Ruthie writes a script that is picked up for a television series, only to be completely warped and revised to suit the network. Yes, she occasionally is powerless to the point of being spineless, but if we ask ourselves what we might have done differently, we might realize that we would have gotten fired over that response. Ruth is a survivor, whether from the accident or her treatment by Hollywood. She will do what must be done to get her show on the air, even if it involves selling chunks of her creative soul. This also is a romance, and not just between Ruthie and the man she loves. There is the romance between Ruthie and her grandma, which is beautiful and touching. Grandma is not a wacky, salty old broad, straight out of Central Casting. She is a vibrant woman with her own interests, and her love of and devotion to Ruthie actually warmed my cold hard heart. Even so, she has her own life, one that occasionally eclipses her granddaughter's. Oh, how I cried while reading this. I wept over Ruthie's fears of being alone. I wept over her loss of control over her television show. I wept over her feelings toward Little Dave. I cried like a drunk at a wedding, and I am not ashamed to admit it. Jennifer Weiner writes with such realism and heart that I defy you not to fall in love with Ruthie (and maybe Jennifer Weiner too). Although most of us cannot relate to Hollywood's endless cycle of selling out, we nonetheless can see ourselves in Ruthie and her quest to make something of herself and find someone who loves her. She is not perfect; she makes terrible mistakes, underestimates herself, and misreads all manner of situations. But she keeps trying. She never gives up, not on herself or her dreams. When she admits to Little Dave her sadness over her scars, you don't need to be a sitcom veteran to empathize with her. But you do need to have some tissues handy, because she will break your heart. In a good way, I promise. Published on cupcake's book cupboard. @VivaAmaRisata Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I loved Jennifer Weiner's "Good in Bed" and "Little Earthquakes." This one, like her previous three, "Best Friends Forever," "Fly Away Home," and "Then Came You," was just fair for me. The story stars Ruth, who was badly injured in a car accident that killed her parents when she was 3. As a result, her face and part body were left permanently disfigured and scarred, and she was raised by her loving grandmother. Ruth and her grandmother end up moving to LA so Ruth can pursue her dream of becoming I loved Jennifer Weiner's "Good in Bed" and "Little Earthquakes." This one, like her previous three, "Best Friends Forever," "Fly Away Home," and "Then Came You," was just fair for me. The story stars Ruth, who was badly injured in a car accident that killed her parents when she was 3. As a result, her face and part body were left permanently disfigured and scarred, and she was raised by her loving grandmother. Ruth and her grandmother end up moving to LA so Ruth can pursue her dream of becoming a television writer. Along the way, Ruth falls in love with one of her bosses. Some parts of the book dragged for me, like the long descriptions of getting a television show made. Plus, the show Ruth had created sounded so incredibly cheesy and lame. Like other readers, I picked up on some errors that bugged me like when Ruth, who loves the show "Golden Girls," describes the character of Sophia talking about her childhood in Italy when really on the show Sophia would've talked about Sicily. And when Weiner refers to Nana's brother Milt, who's 10 years younger than she, but later says Nana is 76 when she and Ruth head to LA and visit Milt on the way and he's "well into his 70s." I wanted to root for Ruth, but she began to grate on me, especially her constant insecurity. The resolution with Ruth's object of desire, Little Dave, seemed implausible to me. Overall, I'll give Weiner credit for a book that is engaging and made me want to stay with it to see what would happen in the end. It's just not nearly up to the standards of her best stuff.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Jennifer Weiner is definitely one of my "comfort read" authors -- an author whose books I can always depend on for a wholesome good read. The Next Best Thing was no exception. It's the story of Ruth Saunders, whose parents died in a car crash when Ruth was little, leaving Ruth scarred both physically and emotionally, and Ruth is subsequently raised by her spunky and loveable grandmother. During Ruth's extensive surgeries to rebuild her face, her and her grandma bond over television shows like th Jennifer Weiner is definitely one of my "comfort read" authors -- an author whose books I can always depend on for a wholesome good read. The Next Best Thing was no exception. It's the story of Ruth Saunders, whose parents died in a car crash when Ruth was little, leaving Ruth scarred both physically and emotionally, and Ruth is subsequently raised by her spunky and loveable grandmother. During Ruth's extensive surgeries to rebuild her face, her and her grandma bond over television shows like the Golden Girls, and Ruth grows up to be a writer, determined to make it in Hollywood. Both Ruth and Grandma pack their bags for the glitz and glamour of the city, and Ruth attempts to make it in a world that prizes physical appearance over all else, and what ensues is a story that is beautiful and heartwarming. The Next Best Thing is the perfect summer read. It's lighthearted, but has its heartfelt moments that make it a worthwhile read. Jennifer Weiner's writing perfectly balanced throughout the book, mixing in humour and moments that will make your throat close up as you blink back the tears. Highly recommended -- and I just love it when a well-loved author lives up to her previous work and never disappoints! Review also posted at: http://writergrrlreads.blogspot.ca/20...

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