The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Format: eBook via Netgalley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Atria Books
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 am going to be honest, up until this book I have never read anything by Jennifer Weiner. It's not that I set out not too or was avoiding her books (I even have a couple on my shelves) I just never got around to it. While I really liked this book, it hasn't made me run out to buy all of her books, but I will make a point of actually reading the ones I do have.
Ms. Weiner has created an interesting story with likable characters. Main Character Ruth Saunders is all grown up, but with a disfigured face (the product of a childhood car accident and the subsequent surgeries) she still feels like the ugly girl in a world of pretty girls. Ruth lives with her grandmother and uses their life experiences for a sitcom she created; The Next Best Thing. I loved her grandmother, she is the heart of the story, always making sure Ruth eats well, wants to hear about her day, her grandmotherly pride shines.
As with any experience there are ups and downs for Ruth as she tried to launch her show, but it all ends up neat and tidy in the end.
Ms. Weiner uses her real life experience to create this story. Back in 2010/2011 she co-created “State of Georgia” (originally titled The Great State of Georgia.) The pilot was picked up and 11 episodes ran but was then cancelled. Raven-Symoné was cast as the lead; a character who was originally imagined as "plus-sized" and Jewish, which the newly svelte starlet was not (this is an issue that was eventually crafted as a plot-point for the The Next Best Thing)
I liked this book. It was light and comfortable.There were no gut clenching "uh-ohs" and parts that made me smile while reading them, this is definitely a book that I would recommend.
The Next Best Thing is available for purchase on amazon.com, and later this month on amazon.ca as well as other book retailers.