Thursday, January 07, 2010

First Book of the New Year

I have already finished reading one book this year, and I didn't start it in 2009 either. I only started it a few days ago and I'm already done. Don't be too impressed though, it really was an easy read.

You know how you flip through channels on the TV when you're bored and you come across a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movie already in progress and you stop. Next thing you know ... you have to see the end. You missed the beginning, it's sappy, and not the kind of movie you would intentionally pick out to watch, but you stick with it anyway. And once it gets to the end, you still have no desire to watch it again ... ever ... even though you never saw the beginning and some of the plot (if there was much of a plot) still didn't make any sense. This is kind of how I felt about this book. Also the reason I read it so fast.

The book is Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. I've never read anything by her before, mostly because I don't read a lot of fiction and when I do I tend not to read chick-lit, which is what this was.

It's a pretty light, easy read. Probably the kind of book that someone would read on vacation at the beach or something. So not the environment I was reading it in! It's the story of two women who were best friends as kids, something happened in high school that caused a falling out, and how they are brought back together in the midst of situation that arises at their high school class reunion. It was one of those stories lines that has two or three different things going on in the present as well as many, many flashbacks. Some chapters are in the first person of the main character (one of the women) and some are in third person where you learn about other characters in the book, and some chapters are in third person and entirely in italics, I guess to set those characters off from the rest of the story. There's a lot of back and forth, but the author handled that well, I was never really confused.

However, I did kind of guess what the plot had in store as it went along. A new character was introduced and I thought, "ah, he's going to be the love interest!" And then another situation is referred to and I thought, "I bet such and such will happen." And every time I was right, no real surprises. But that's typical chick-lit for you. It's supposed to not make you think too hard and just provide an interesting story.

The other thing I didn't like was the treatment of the main character. Her friend was shown as somewhat shallow, out-going, and kind of needy. There always has to be a character that needs "fixing." As the story moved along I wanted the main character to evolve from the mousy, low self-esteem person she was into a more strong, confident person. And she did some, but she still seemed kind of stupid. The big surprise at the end, was not a surprise at all, at least not to me. But it was certainly a surprise to the characters in the book, and I think it was meant to be a surprise to the reader, just not this reader.

One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of my generation. The class reunion that was central to the story line was a Class of '92 reunion. So they are essentially the same age as me (Pope HS class of '93). So the flashbacks to their childhood all sounded familiar, the flashbacks to high school were dead on for those years of the early 90s (clothing, hair styles, etc.), and the present day stuff was very accurate: Internet dating, Google, smartphones, etc. It is rare that I read something and feel like the characters led similar lives to my own and could be living their lives just down the street. It was pretty realistic in that sense.

Like those movies on Hallmark or Lifetime, it was one of those stories that makes you want to keep reading, even though you kind of know how things are going and how it will all turn out. Thus I read it in about three days. And that will probably be it, even if we do end up on a beach somewhere this coming May, I'll probably not be bringing this book along for a re-read.

Next on my list is Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. Quite a change, for sure.

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