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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Idea of Him: A Novel
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
That's what a mysterious blonde keeps telling Allie Crawford, a frazzled thirty-something Manhattan wife and mother, a career woman who dreams of becoming a screenwriter. Perhaps author Holly Peterson hoped to whip up some drama and excitement, but by that point, alas, she simply managed to render me still more confused -- so confused, indeed, that I never managed to really recover to the point where I could figure out what kind of novel I was reading. Was it a classic chick lit book about a woman trying to get through a mid-life/mid-career slump? Trying to forge a new path? Discovering unpleasant things about her husband? What role will an old boyfriend and the hunky new guy in her screenwriting class play? When all of these possibilities are still murky halfway through the book, I knew I was in trouble. Even more so, because I discovered I simply didn't care all that much. Yup, I was bored.

Everything is exaggerated for effect, from the too-glamorous Jackie Malone, who keeps dropping ominous warnings in Allie's ears about what her husband and the men around her are up to, but somehow fails to give her enough details to put two and two together -- while giving her plenty of reasons not to trust her. Allie's actions from this point on struck me as downright inexplicable as she gyrates between being uber-tough Manhattan PR girl extraordinaire and then hysterical female being trampled on and victimized.

And frankly, the details of the alleged shenanigans didn't make sense, when we finally got to the point where they were revealed.

At least some of this wouldn't have mattered had I cared about the characters, but most of them were too two-dimensional for that to happen: they were there to fill some requirement in the plot, and that was it.

This is the kind of novel I'll normally polish off in a day or two (I read Peterson's debut, "The Manny", on a single airplane ride...) This specific book, however, took five full days to finish: I kept picking it up with reluctance and putting it down with relief. I had been looking for a lightweight, frivolous and entertaining book to read to follow some heavier books I'd been making my way through, but while this certainly fills the first category, I think it might actually be trying to take itself seriously, and it certainly didn't qualify as entertaining for me, alas.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
If this is what the newest crop of beach reads is going to be like this year - I may be a bit disappointed! This was a confusing and mostly boring blend of plots. There was a mystery (for what it was worth) , a `romance' and your typical `mother/wife who wants to have it all but has a husband you want to beat upside the head and spoiled kids' type of book. In other words , this was a total cliché of a book. Had it been written with a slightly lighter hand or perhaps took o a singular component and concentrated more on it, it may not have been as tedious a read as I found this novel to be.

Everything about this book seemed to be a cliché; from the over worked and under-loved mother/wife to the requisite bad boy behavior of the husband, to the slightly spoiled attitudes of the kids and finally to the stresses a working woman faces daily.

Since 95% of the female population does't live their lives in a high powered city nor have a high powered career, these books are usually interesting and eye opening -usually. Unfortunately, it takes more than this book was able to provide to keep a reader engaged and anxious to finish because they want to see how everything works out.

The author does employ some unusual tactics with the mystery elements, but they were too little too late for me.
ARC provided for reviewing purposes.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 4, 2014
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had read Holly Peterson's first novel, "The Manny", when it first came out a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. So I was looking forward to reading her new novel but I found "The Idea of Him" to be kind of disappointing.

There aren't really any likable characters in the book. Even the main character, Allie, is not really that likable of a character. I had a hard time rooting for her because I didn't necessarily agree with some of her actions. Without giving too much away, just because someone does something wrong, doesn't mean it was okay or excusable for Allie to do the same thing. The only character that I didn't mind was Jackie. I almost wanted to know more of her story than Allie's. Maybe the book would have worked better if it alternated between Allie's and Jackie's point-of-view.

The plot was just so-so for me. It was an intriguing mystery at first but it seemed to drag and bore me by the middle of the story. It made the book feel too long because I just don't think that there was enough mystery to keep the plot moving. And the mystery aspect was not very well done. I could tell exactly what was going to happen right away and it made for tedious reading because there was no mystery pushing me to want to keep reading.

It was just a disappointment to read and made me feel a bit sad because I really wanted to like this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 27, 2014
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The author obviously did not know what type of story she wanted to write. Chick lit about a woman scorned or mystery about white collar crime? She merged the two together, and ended up with an awful mess. There are no characters to care about, no character growth to speak of, and the ending is left open for (heaven forbid!) a sequel. I haven't read anything by Peterson before, but she has made my "steer clear of" list.

Not recommended
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book really did nothing for me. I found the main character, Allie, to be dull and flat. And the action, what there was of it, was boring and contrived. I liked the idea of the plot, which is why I ordered this book, but the writing just left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't hate this book, but I was bored and left wanting more by the time I was done with it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Rating: 3.5 stars

Allie Crawford has a great life on the surface; she has two amazing kids, a happy marriage, and a great job. But everything goes downhill quickly when she finds her husband, Wade, slipping into their laundry room with another woman. A cheating husband is bad enough, but there's much more for Allie to discover.

Someone close to the truth, and an unlikely ally, helps Allie uncover the secrets that have been bringing down her life without her even knowing. Will Allie find the answers before it's too late?

My feelings about this read are quite complicated. At times I was as frustrated as I was interested. I found the flow of the story quite jolting--it jumped back and forth between past and present events and even present story focus--but the suspense surrounding Wade's dealings kept me engaged.

Most importantly, I cared about Allie. She's a determined character who wants to get to the truth, even if it's not pretty. At first, she seems to want to keep the blinders on; but it's not long before she develops the backbone necessary to protect herself and her children. I was quite intrigued with the backstory regarding her father, but that was never fully explored to my satisfaction (and often felt misplaced in the story). Finally, I really wanted to know more about Jackie--Allie's unlikely ally.

In the end, I cared about the main character and wanted to know what happened to her. Not a bad reading day at all.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The premise of this book sounded interesting to me. I'm always captivated by a good story of betrayal and deception. However, the story construction and prose fell flat to me. Maybe my expectations are too high having recently finished Leaving Time: A Novel, which was excellent, but I struggled to read this. The writing felt clunky to me and the dialogue especially didn't feel well honed. The characters felt more like representations of a type of person than a nuanced character. I struggled to become invested in them and care about their stories. I also didn't care for how the story unfolded. It didn't do enough to build the suspense and hold my interest from beginning to end.

Not my favorite.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Holly Peterson breaks the rules about writing novels. Your stories should never have characters who are writers writing their own novels, wannabe novelists are told. Ignoring the taboo, Peterson passably pulls off a decent story, despite this no-no.

The main protagonist, Allie, is a character many women will relate to; she holds down a stressful job, has two children (whom she feels guilty about not spending enough time with) and a husband jostling to keep his business relevant. Various flashbacks and characters develop Allie's back story. Readers will be able to bond with her--to a point--and then will again, later. Allie's voice is believable and she's likeable.

Unfortunately, others (boss, Murray; husband, Wade; fellow writer, Tommy; et al) are caricatures--personalities pumped-up with hyperbole. While their descriptions and actions help the reader to form opinions about them, it's just too over-done. (I am purposely not giving examples to not spoil the story for you.) The advice of 'less is more' would have been useful here. If this were intended as tongue-in-cheek, it would be successful.

Another main character, Jackie, left me with a big disconnect. She's a good 10 years younger than Allie, still in grad school, and yet, makes our heroine look like she's fresh out of life's kindergarten class. In an effort to keep the reader in the dark--just like Allie--there's too much here that doesn't make sense and becomes a distraction, not an enticement to read further.

At more than 370 pages, this novel needs a better editing job. Frankly, I was bored at times, although the pacing improved nearly halfway through the story. Peterson's turning points moved the story along, but the ending (no spoilers here) was trite. Here, too, caricatures--not characters--were employed.

Maybe I simply expected too much from a New York Times bestselling author and magazine editor. Her creds as an Emmy Award-winning producer led me to believe this would be a great read. I was disappointed. And yet, I would read another Peterson novel--with the hopes that its characters will be ones with whom I can bond.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Allie's life took a very traumatic turn when she lost her father at age sixteen. So much might have been different otherwise.

So when she met charming and charismatic Wade a few years later, she turned away from the man she'd believed was her soul mate to marry him.

Now she is at a crossroads, with two young children, aspirations to become a screenwriter, and a frustrating public relations position that requires working with questionable characters.

At that very point, she is also studying Wade's actions and wondering if she can believe anything he says. He, too, seems mixed up with nefarious individuals and lies too easily to be believable.

Will she have to extricate herself from the marriage in order to salvage her integrity? Will there be any money left after the maelstrom of dark doings? And why does the gorgeous woman named Jackie openly confess to an affair with Wade, and then confide secret activities to Allie as if they are now best friends?

I had a hard time liking any of these characters. The secrets, betrayals, and downright dishonesty of most of them felt repugnant. I couldn't believe that Allie was hanging in despite her instincts. Was she still clinging to Wade because he represented the missing father figure in her life?

The Idea of Him: A Novel was the kind of story that had its moments, but overall I could not wait to finish it. Perhaps this is a book that could be enjoyed by readers who delight in the manipulations and the games. For me, that fascination only took me so far. 3 stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'd give it zero if I could. Characters are cliche and unlikable. Storyline is boring and makes no sense. The author's style of writing is hard to read and all over the place. She's trying to build up suspense but around what?
I couldn't get through this book. Confusing and meandering plot. Definitley not worth the money.
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