The Next Best Thing is Jennifer Weiner’s latest novel. It centers on Ruth Saunders and her grandma, Rachel. Ruth moves across the country with her grandma to Los Angeles, where she wants to live her dream of writing and creating a TV show.
Ruth carries scars, literally and figuratively from an accident when she was three years old, an accident which took both of her parents from her and left her to the care of her loving grandma. Ruth’s childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, having painful surgeries to lessen the damage from the accident. It is there that her grandma gives her the tools that will shape her dream – a pen and paper.
Ruth creates alternate storylines to the Golden Girls and other favorite shows, she writes about friends and herself. Her TV show is based loosely on her and her grandma’s journey across country and Ruth’s dream of making something of herself and her grandma finding love at seventy plus years.
Working in Hollywood opens doors for Ruth and gives her an inside look into the behind the scenes life of Hollywood, which is not always glamorous. When Ruth’s show is picked up, she is suddenly struggling to keep her dream intact and keep the show how she envisioned it.
The characters were good, the writing, as always with Jennifer Weiner is superb. But I just couldn’t get into the book. I am not really interested in the ultra-glamorous life of Hollywood and the self-absorbed actors that inhabit it. And that is where the book is centered.
Yes, it’s about Ruth’s journey but is it necessary to describe in detail, what Ruth and Grandma are wearing every single wardrobe change? The back-stabbing and “compromises” that are a natural part of that scene are the focus of The Next Best Thing.
I liked Ruth’s love interest, Dave. They had great chemistry from the beginning and I wanted them to get their happily ever after but that whole escort business was just down right creepy. It didn’t make me feel pity or sorrow for what he lost but a whole lot disturbed. Ruth in turn is so googly eyed, she just melts at his admission.
I had really high hopes for this book and was ultimately disappointed. I’ve loved Weiner since Good in Bed and I know she can do better. It was supposed to be focused on Ruth and while it was, there wasn’t enough for me. Too much time was spent detailing dinners and clothes and plastic surgery so that it feels more like a tell-all than a novel about finding yourself, finding love and making your dreams come true.