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The Next Best Thing: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"Weiner is coming off a year in Hollywood, and she puts the experience to excellent use in this utterly engaging story of a showrunner who, after six years of slogging, finally gets a series on the air, only to discover that her troubles are only beginning—meddling studio execs, egomaniacal actors and one crushable but unobtainable boss." (Time)

"Spares no bon mot in exposing Hollywood’s sexism, ageism and incurable penchant for extravagant silliness." (Kirkus)

"Full of warm and interesting characters as well as a wealth of insider industry detail (Weiner was a cocreator of an ABC Family sitcom), this is a must-read for Weiner’s many fans and anyone who enjoys smart, funny fiction." (Library Journal)

"An entertaining story about the dream-crushing compromises on the road from page to screen." (People)

“A knockout. Perfect comic timing meets effortless dialogue and an engaging plot…. Enjoy your place on top of the lit world, Jennifer Weiner. You've more than made it.” (The Miami Herald)

"Jennifer Weiner is funny and dead-on when it comes to building a satisfying summer read.” (New York Daily News)

“Ruth is a multidimensional heroine, and Weiner gives her real heart and soul. Readers will root for her to get everything she ever wanted—not to settle for the next best thing. This is contemporary women’s fiction at its finest.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Weiner’s snappy new novel showcases her humor and style." (Washington Post)

“A fascinating glimpse into the television industry…Weiner’s strong sense of comedy comes through in her characters’ witty banter and Ruth’s writing. You will cheer her on in her quest to find success and love.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“Weiner is a chick-lit writer with chops—and she puts them to expert use in this funny, feel-good tale.” (Better Homes & Gardens)

“A juicy fictional account of life behind the scenes for a female TV showrunner.” (New York Post)

“Jennifer Weiner proves once again that her bestseller status is no accident by delivering another intriguing page-turner. She gives us sassy, sardonic Ruth to root for as well as plenty of zingers aimed at Hollywood's tweaked values. Readers are likely to enjoy a fascinating peek into the politics of television culture, coupled with a lively plot and a satisfying love story.” (

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve books, including Good in BedIn Her Shoes, which was made into a major motion picture, and Who Do You Love. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451617763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451617764
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (447 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, which was made into a major motion picture, and Who Do You Love. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Cal on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to begin by saying that I'm an avid reader and have read every one of J. Weiner's books. I'm having a difficult time even finishing this book. I'm 2/3 finished and fight every night to read more. Sadly, I think this is the worst book she's written... I'm totally uninterested in the plot, characters, etc... There are definitely better summer reads out there if that's what you're after!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By CPHowe on September 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Next Best Thing by best-selling author Jennifer Weiner is set in Los Angeles and is about Ruth Saunders, a young woman who breaks into the world of TV sitcoms with her show The Next Best Thing. I'm interested in LA and screenwriting, and I think they're great subjects for a novel, so I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this book. But it didn't go quite the way I'd expected.

Fifty pages in I knew there was something not quite right about this novel, and so I did a little investigating. I wouldn't normally search the internet or look at other reviews before I write my own, but on this occasion I'm glad I did.

It turns out that Jennifer Weiner co-created and wrote the short-lived sitcom State of Georgia in 2011. To be fair she acknowledges this at the back of The Next Best Thing. But there's a reminder that should be pinned to every writer's wall: just because it happened in real life doesn't mean it should be in your story. When I found out about Weiner's cancelled sitcom, and had a look around, all the problems I had with The Next Best Thing started to make sense.

As the story slowly unfolds, we see Ruth's ideas being taken away from her, changed piece by piece until her show is no longer the one she dreamed up. If only, I realised Weiner is telling us, if only I - sorry, I mean Ruth - could have made `State of Georgia' - sorry, I mean The Next Best Thing - the way I'd wanted to it would have all been OK, and it would have been a hit.

Weiner tells us in great detail how it all happened. Dozens of pages go by while we hear about how the show was picked up, the rewriting of scenes and introduction of new characters, the studio executives getting their way with casting, and the lowly status of the writer when it comes to decisions.
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66 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Once upon a time, I worked in film and television. And I remember my boss telling me, "Nobody sets out to make a bad movie." And then she'd tell a story about an infamous flop, and how amazing the original script had been. I thought about this story as I read Jennifer Weiner's The Next Best Thing, a take on the television industry from one who knows whence she speaks. At the center of her tale is Ruthie Saunders, Weiner's skinniest protagonist to date. But Ruthie has her own body image issues, owing to a horrific childhood car crash that left her orphaned and scarred in more ways than one. Fortunately, Ruthie was raised by a loving grandmother that saw her through years of painful reconstructive surgeries, during which the two of them found comfort in television shows like The Golden Girls.

That's what Ruthie has always wanted to do, write for television, and readers get to know both her and her grandma as they follow Ruthie though her dues-paying years. All of which lead up to her big break--the chance to produce her own show. It is also called The Next Best Thing, and is a sitcom about a slightly heavy underdog and her grandmother making their way in the world. Much of the book entails Ruthie's struggles to bring her vision to life, while juggling her personal relationships.

Just now, I started to type, "First and foremost, this is a Hollywood satire." And then I deleted. Because while this absolutely IS a delicious Hollywood satire (which is sure to please fans of the Showtime series "Episodes"), I think any Weiner novel is automatically a novel about women, our relationships, our insecurities, and our dreams. I say "our," because I think there is a very universal appeal to Jennifer Weiner's flawed protagonists.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By maggie simpson on July 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Bought this, at full price, like I do every one of Jennifer Weiner's books. I'm always hoping that each new title will finally be as wonderful as "Good in Bed" and "In Her Shoes." And it never is. Name-dropping, stereotypes and clunky pop culture references (like anotheer reviewer mentioned, gee, I wonder who "Cady" is supposed to be!), at the expense of character and plot development, make her latest work especially unreadable.

It is perhaps unfair to rate a book after only getting halfway through, but I had to stop reading when the author introduces George. He's one of the writers for the sitcom "The Next Best Thing." He's also a COMPLETE ripoff of 30 Rock's Twofer -- African American, Harvard, from a well-heeled family, and his paycheck comes from another budget because he's part of a "diversity initiative". That last detail was the basis of an entire episode of 30 Rock! There's a difference between homage and plagiarism.

I'm wondering if Weiner has some software that spits out these formulaic books. At this point they're clearly being churned out with little effort by the author (not to mention her publisher -- how does lifting AN ENTIRE CHARACTER, however minor, from someone else's work pass basic fact-checking?!) to meet deadlines and keep those royalties rolling in. I guess that's what happens when writers have to produce on demand.

I'm not sure if I'll slog through the rest of The Next Best Thing, but I'm willing to bet the narrator has a baby, since that seems to be the only happy ending available in Weiner's ouevre.
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