The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher
From the publisher:
Actors aren’t the only ones trying to make it in Hollywood.…At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders left her childhood home in Massachusetts and headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to make it as a screenwriter. Six years later, she hits 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 showrunner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on her boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear for writer’s room showdowns and an eye for bad backstage behavior and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller coaster, a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
I’m a pretty big fan of Weiner’s – have read every one of her books – so it goes without saying that I was anxious and excited to pick up a copy of The Next Best Thing soon after its release. Happily, I found that the book lived up to my expectations and I enjoyed it just as much as I have enjoyed many of my favorite Jennifer Weiner novels.
Above all else, what I most loved about this novel was the character of Ruth. She is a damaged person – physically by the car accident that killed her parents, and emotionally by the fact that she grew up without said parents – but at the same time, she has such a can-do attitude and has huge dreams for herself. She grew up with a fabulous grandmother who encouraged her beyond belief, and as a result she actually has a confidence in her own abilities that most people in her situation would not have. I loved that, while she wasn’t confident in her looks, she truly believed that she could be successful in her chosen career. I loved this about her – she was dead set on being a successful television writer, and she became one. Even when there was a ton of stuff thrown at her – as you will see if you read the book – she never once gave up on her dream. Love.
I don’t know how much experience Weiner has with the Hollywood scene, but it seems to me that she must know what she’s talking about, because the events in the novel feel extremely realistic. It seemed to me that Weiner brought what life on a TV show set is really like and I certainly enjoyed this unique and interesting setting of the novel.
I listened to the audiobook and it was a great experience. The narrator, Olivia Thirlby, did an excellent job and I truly believed that she was Ruth. She embodied the personality of the main character and did such a great job telling this story. I definitely would go with the audiobook if you enjoy listening to your books.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Weiner, you absolutely must read this novel. I thought it was just as fun, heartwarming, and true as some of her best novels. If you haven’t yet tried Jennifer Weiner’s books – what are you waiting for? She writes smart women’s fiction that is about issues that run much deeper than traditional chick lit – family, love, acceptance, achieving your dreams, all kinds of stuff. I love her and I really liked The Next Best Thing.