Book Review: The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Our flawed heroine in this Weiner novel is Ruth Sanders, a 28 year old wannabe TV writer.

Ruth was orphaned by a car accident when she was young, left with very noticeable scars and a loving grandmother, who leaves her sleepy, Floridian retirement to - in essence - become a parent again. Shortly after the accident, it was decided that Ruth would spend a summer in the hospital having reconstructive surgeries. She and her Grandmother wiled away the hours reading, writing and watching The Golden Girls

We see a few glimpses of Ruth as an adolescent, she believes from an early age that she will never be pretty due to the large scar on her face. She forgoes boys, and joins the school newspaper, both the formal paper and the underground gossip mag.

Upon completion of college, Ruth asks her Grandmother to move to Hollywood with her in order to give her dream a shot. A year is all, then they will come back. However, Nana will not agree to these terms, she will agree to go with Ruth to take all of the time she needs in order to succeed. When we meet Ruth at the beginning of the novel, she has spent almost a decade chasing her dream and is finally waiting for the approval of the pilot for her show "The Next Best Thing". The show is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of her and her grandmother's own journey to LA. 

We follow Ruth as she is tested to see how far she is willing to compromise in order to have her writing brought to life. Now, of course, as this is technically "chick lit" there is a bit of a love story that plays in the background but, as is true in most Weiner tales, the focus is on the battle with the self.  

I truly enjoyed this novel. At various times, I found myself so completely engrossed in the tale that hours would pass without me realizing. Ruth is a well formed character, flaws and all. Which is what I love about Weiner, Ruth is an average girl, and as an average girl, I want this girl to win! Once when explaining why I loved Weiner's heroines I exclaimed, "because they're cute, chubby, quirky girls like me!"

I would recommend this book ... to folks who love a fun, light read. 

My two favorite quotes from the book ... 

"She looks like P-P-Paris Hilton! And I hate Paris Hilton! She has dead lizard eyes!" 

"And, by the way, I would have done this for free pizza and a bag of Skittles."