Customer Reviews: In Her Shoes: A Novel
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on February 2, 2003
Ms. Weiner's debut, Good In Bed, left me eager for her next book, and In Her Shoes did not dissapoint. ... from the moment I opened this book, I was hooked, captivated by real and compelling characters who are just like so many people you know. Including yourself.
Jennifer Weiner has a gift for creating characters who's greatest weaknesses are also what makes them so charming and likeable. In this particular book, the focus is on sisters, Maggie and Rose. Rose is the heavy set, intelligent, highly succesful one. Maggie, two years younger, is beautiful, outgoing, but not school or book smart (at first) and jumping from one job failure to the next.
The relationship between Maggie and Rose is at the crux of this book -- complex because of a difficult past shadowed by a family tragedy. Jealousy threatens to tear these two apart, particularly through an act of deceipt. However, these two sisters find out that the ties that bind them are stronger than anything threatening to tear them apart.
More than a Bridget Jones type story, this book will tug at your heartstrings, make you cheer for these likeable, perfectly imperfect girls all the way. Also parallel to the story is a Grandmother who links them to their past, and draws them toward a happy future. If you like happy endings, funny anecdotes, and great characters, this book is for you.
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on February 10, 2003
I read the first review on this page and decided to get the book anyway. I had read Good in Bed on a recent vacation after I picked it up with some other books on a whim. Never heard of Weiner or the book, and I loved them both. It was one of those great books--you know, the kind where when you finish, you don't want to let go of the characters. So, I heard that In Her Shoes was something of a sequel, so I rushed out and bought it. While I was disappointed that I didn't have much of an opportunity to learn more about Cannie, Joy and Nifkin, I was so distracted by my interest in Rose and Maggie that I hardly remembered why I bought the book in the first place.
Weiner does such a great job of writing about human, likeable characters that I was completely caught up in their lives. As quickly as I read the book, and as anxious as I was to see how it all turned out, I dreaded turning the final page because I didn't want to let go of these characters either. To me, that is how I judge a good book. If the characters show up in my dreams or if I just find myself wondering about what happened to them weeks after I finished the book, then it is a winner on my list.
Good job Weiner! Can't wait for the next one...
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I was thoroughly enchanted with Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed, and found In Her Shoes to be even better. In Her Shoes had everything that made her first novel so good, but was less over-the-top.

Rose Feller is a 30-year old lawyer living and working in Philadelphia. Rose got the brains in the family (Princeton undergrad and University of Pennsylvania Law School), but not the looks (she's very large and very unstylish). Her entire life, Rose has had to look after her wayward sister. Maggie is very thin, actress pretty and very fashion conscious. But she also suffers from dyslexia. She is a user, and each scrape she gets herself into is more outrageous than the previous one. Rose is always the one responsible for picking up the pieces after each episode. It will take a major crisis for them to discover how much they love and need each other, and how well they compliment each other. Despite so many differences, both girls are looking for love, respect and a sense of self-worth.

There is enough high-drama in In Her Shoes for a soap opera. Rose and Maggie's mother committed suicide when they were young. Their passive father remarries a horrid, domineering woman they call the step-monster. Their father severed all contact with their maternal grandmother, and the girls are rudderless without nurturing, maternal guidance.

Jennifer Weiner is an extremely witty and talented writer. Even when situations are serious, her characters are able to find the humor in things. Weiner is especially good at self-deprecation. When one character starts getting cold feet about asking someone on a date, she writes "He'd been in a war; he'd survived a wife, he'd watched his son become a Republican with a Rush Limbaugh bumper sticker on the back of his minivan. He's survived worse things than this." Weiner creates characters we can identify with-they're very real and very human. Even the horrible step-mother, Sydelle, is shown to be vulnerable at times.

This is the second Weiner novel to deal with the importance of sisters, mothers, family and friends. I can't wait to see the movie with Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine. These accomplished woman are just the actresses to bring this novel to life.
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on February 1, 2008
From the moment I read the first few paragraphs of this book, I fell in love. Jennifer Weiner effortlessly seams character plots throughout this book, which follows two sisters who have nothing in common but the size of their feet and their love for designer shoes.

Rose is the ugly-duckling who grew into a swan but doesn't quite realize it, while her younger sister, Maggie, has been the beautiful girl all her life who struggles with a learning disability and uses men to get by. The book takes such a personal look at the depth of two people that society fits into two typecasts: the older heavyweight, responsible woman in Rose versus the beautiful, spontaneous child-like qualities in Maggie. The themes can be recognized in every woman's life. We all know the girl who gets everything because she's beautiful but has deep rooted fears, or the woman who doesn't recognize her own spirit and beauty because she's grown up with poor self-esteem.

Rose and Maggie grow considerably throughout the book. I flipped through each page, rooting that each would find their way and become that better person that we all try to see in ourselves. I couldn't put the book down. This is the first time I have ever read a Jennifer Weiner novel, and this surely will not be my last.
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on December 11, 2004
I did like Good In Bed not only because it was finally a good book about a fat woman in love, but for Weiner's writing. It was flawless and as natural as a river flow, with carefully selected words. But In Her Shoes "lost me at hello". It looks like it's written by another person: cookie-cutter characters (smart fat girl, dumb pretty girl, nasty stepmother, etc.), clumsy sentences and a story so far stretched that it is tearing apart. Also for another book trying to make a point that "appearances are not important" there is too much paper and ink spent on actual descriptions of the looks, shoes and dresses. I give 2 stars only for the portrayal of Golden Acres senior community - it was the only part of the book that was close to real life and actually funny.

Good In Bed felt like it was written from a heart (and this is why it stood up), but this one was made only for the money. I think I'll pass on Weiner's next creation.
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on October 28, 2002
I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about this author so I decided to buy her new book. Well, if this book had a remote, I'd be hitting the Mute button: bye bye, buzz. Somehow I made it to the ending, but this is distressingly shallow material, not at all the family drama I'd been led to expect. Such trite writing...for one thing, the dialogue is terrible, especially when characters are supposed to be witty. Weiner seems to draw all her ideas about conversation not from real life, but from TV (judging from the glance I took at her website, that's EXACTLY where Weiner must get her ideas). Nobody outside of sitcoms talks like this. The characters are from central casting (there's even the obligatory African-American best go, girl!) and Maggie seems to have been written just so the author could bat her around. She's so stupid she can't even succeed as a bimbo! Not to spoil the ending, but what kind of book tries to pass off as a triumph a scene where a 28-year-old woman manages to read a poem aloud without making a mistake? This is Maggie's high point? What contempt! And why would anyone be attracted to a man like Simon Stein? Simply because he knows what to order at every restaurant in town? We're supposed to think Maggie is the dumb one, but Rose is smart when she marries a ridiculous character like that? I think there's meant to be a Cinderella motif here (nasty stepmother, shoes) but it's very weak. This novel is like TV between hard covers. Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith have nothing to worry about.
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on October 2, 2002
Did you love _Good in Bed_? I did. Does this mean you'll love _In Her Shoes_? Maybe.
It depends on what it was about _Good in Bed_ that grabbed you. Was it the scathingly witty dialogue? If so, there's less of that here, though _In Her Shoes_ has its moments. But if it was the story of how Cannie learned to love herself and the relationships in her life, you'll go for _In Her Shoes_, which focuses more relationships between the characters. There's a lot more pain in _In Her Shoes_ than in _Good in Bed_ -- a grandmother who hasn't seen her granddaughters since they were children, one sister who's successful at work but unsuccessful in love, the other beautiful but branded stupid, a stepmother who always feels like she's second best. The ending is happy, but there are twists and turns galore in between.
Cannie, her daughter, and Nifkin make a brief appearance in the center of the novel, for those who are interested.
_In Her Shoes_ is a richer, but in some ways less fun, read than its predecessor -- where _Good in Bed_ was one of the better beach reads in existence, _In Her Shoes_ is for curling up on a couch with on a rainy day.
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on November 13, 2002
Jennifer Weiner's strength is in her characterizations. She makes you want to get to know the people she describes, particularly the heroines of her novels. Her heroines are not perfect, physically, or emotionally, and so many of us can relate.
This time around, the heroines are Rose and Maggie Feller, two sisters who could not be more different. Rose is a lawyer, a size 14 with a neglible love life. Maggie is dyslexic and gorgeous, but lost in the world. The "shoes" in the title are both literal and figureative. The girls can wear the same size shoes, and Rose can afford the latest styles, which Maggie borrows, without asking. Maggie does many questionable things, and it is clear that Rose is the favored heroine for most of the book.
However, in this book, Weiner has chosen to bring in a cast of characters who simply crowd the novel. There is not enough room to go deeply into the estranged grandmother, the bi-polar mother who died at 29, the milquetoast father and the "step-monster" he married out of loneliness, not love, and a desire to have a caretaker for his young, motherless girls. There is simply too much going on. And, it seems that, once Weiner realizes this, she speeds up the events to reach a conclusion that is not completely satisfying. A lot of things go unexplained, and some changes are too easy, and hard to believe.
I still think Jennifer Weiner is a very good writer, and I was engrossed in this story, up until the last quarter of the book, when I felt she had kind of lost me. I read it in three days, so she definitely had me in her grasp. I hope that, with her next novel, she sticks to one or two main characters, and tries to minimize the outer characters. Also, in a bit of literary license, we "bump into" the heroine of 'Good in Bed' and find out what became of her. It is still a rare writer who can keep you enthralled, and make you feel that her fictional characters are people you may know in real life.
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on October 16, 2006
Rose Feller is the responsible, intelligent, caretaking older sister we all know and love. She is not the most stylish, attractive or popular girl, but she's dependable, and a good person, and since she can't get anything else right, she buys fantastic expensive shoes. Maggie feller is the complete opposite. The rebellious, angry, irresponsible and slutty younger sister. She is NOT a very nice person, and takes complete advantage of everyone around her, and covets her sister's shoe collection. Therein lies the crux of this story, two sisters, complete opposites, and yet, more alike than they know, because of their underlying pain of losing a mother too early in life.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish this book, because I was completely disgusted by Maggie's behavior and even more so by Rose's putting up with it. And yet, I stuck it out, and am very glad I did. Jennifer Weiner does a great job of creating characters that the reader can't help but to love, to hate, and to love to hate, and hate to love. By the end of this novel, I wanted to hate Maggie, but I couldn't anymore. I'd lived too much with both sisters, and their estranged grandmother, and now they made sense, in their own crazy way.

Very well written, great character development, wonderful backstory, I was hooked to the end. This is not your typical chick lit, it has a deeper soul to it, and readers will enjoy learning about why the characters do the things they do, and act the way they act. The grandmother adds a nice angle to the story as well, and I loved her relationship with Lewis and Mrs. Lefkowitz. Oh, and the shoes? I covet them too.
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on November 8, 2005
This book takes off like a rocket, loses momentum half-way through, and crashes to the ground to fizzle for the final hundred pages or so. Throughout, the writing is smooth and easy to read, but the characters do not engage and the plot meanders aimlessly.

The two protagonists, the sisters Maggie and Rose, are thoroughly disagreeable, and the reader devoutly longs to witness their transformation into decent human beings. Long away, O reader. We are meant to feel some sympathy for Maggie because she is dyslexic, but she lies, steals, cheats, and is all-around bad news. Her redeeming qualities are that she is gorgeous, a size zero, and - get this - she knows how to shop. So much for depth. Rose, the overweight frump of a sister, also has little in the way of redeeming qualities, with the possible exception of her fabulous shoe collection. A Princeton-educated attorney, she makes a curious and unconvincing career change midway through the book that presumably is supposed to usher in her metamorphosis into a worthwhile and likeable person. Except that it doesn't.

The really pathetic creatures in the book are the oldies who live in the Golden Acres retirement community in Florida where the girls' long-lost grandmother, whose personality is as interesting as dishwater (does Shirley MacLaine really play her in the movie version?), also lives. The old folks' lives are so barren that, when Maggie arrives to freeload on granny, creep though Maggie is, she fills the geezers' lives with Meaning.

The one character I enjoyed was Maggie and Rose's `stepmonster,' Sydelle, she with the nostrils that are the envy of the twin entrances to the Lincoln Tunnel. Not only are the depictions of her hilarious, but in the end she turns out to have more depth than any other character in the book.

There's a lot of humor in the book, but, following the fashion of 21st century pop fiction, much of it pertains to pop culture and brand-name products not carried in the JC Penny catalogue. (Do authors accept paid placements for products cited in best-selling novels?) A number of the jokes are shoe-related, but unfortunately none of them questions why a woman would pay hundreds of dollars for something that will ultimately tread in doggy doo and eventually ruin her back and her feet.

Next time, I'll heed the little inner voice that tried to warn me never to buy a book with a picture of shoes on the cover.
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