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The Next Best Thing: A Novel Hardcover – July 3, 2012
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"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
"A fun romp that casts a sharp eye on how this town treats women." —The Hollywood Reporter
“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’s snappy new novel showcases her humor and style." — The Washington Post
“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 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.” —Bookreporter.com
“A writer of innate brilliance.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Jennifer Weiner’s bestselling novels twist humor and topical issues into can’t-put-down stories.”
—The Houston Chronicle
“Hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful, Weiner shows she can write with exquisite tenderness as well as humor.”
—The Miami Herald
“Weiner balances romantic formula with fresh humor and literary sensibility.”
—Elaine Showalter, The Guardian
“One of her generation’s best literary voices.”
—The Boston Herald
“Weiner has a brilliant eye for social stratum, character sketches, and renderings of suburban atmospherics.”
—The Washington Post
About the Author
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books, including Good in Bed, The Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. 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 JenniferWeiner.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
The main character, Ruthie, whose life changed forever when she survived the car crash that killer her parents, but with very visible scars to remind her of it, got the next best thing to having her own parents raise her - an amazing grandmother. And when she decides that her English degree could best be put to use telling stories on TV, her grandmother comes along to LA. There, Ruthie finally learns - in the land where everyone is beautiful and perfect - that she is also worthy of love and success. I cried at the end - but they were happy tears, that this story exists.
I can't recommend this book strongly enough to anyone who has ever felt out of place or just not good enough, anyone who has ever wondered what TV land is like, anyone who loves their grandma. In other words, everyone.
To those who have this book a low rating - I don't get you. 1 star because there was a typo?? Who hurt you? What is wrong with you?? This book is amazing!!!
Ruth Saunders is a television writer who has decided to go west with her grandma to write for television shows in Hollywood and maybe create her own? The move proves to be a good one for both of the ladies. Grandma finds work as a bit actor on many different shows. Ruth is moving her way up the ladder working on various shows. This work leads her to the Daves who offer not only a job but help to move forward with her ultimate goal her own show. Ruth has an idea which the Daves help her to foster and make it to the network. She thinks she has hit it big until the network comes forward with all these changes. Will Ruth acquiesce or make stand for her show? Could the show play a bigger role in her life than what she thought?
I will say that I liked this novel. I felt that there were some great moments but I occasionally found myself losing interest. I loved how she contrasted the characters of Ruth and Little Dave with the Hollywood actors that appeared on the Next Best Thing. The author in subtle ways compared the glamour the actors to everyday norms. Jennifer wrote this novel during time of developing The State of Georgia. I wondered how much of her experience might have made it into the novel. Overall this novel is enjoyable and I loved the ending!
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner is about Ruth, a young woman who has been disfigured in a terrible accident, and who has dreams to become a writer for a TV show. She has been orphaned by the accident, and lives with her colorful grandmother. The rest of the plot is wrapped around her body image difficulties, the craziness of trying to get a show to air (and not get cancelled), and the compromises one has to go through to get your story to be told.
After I saw the low ratings of this book, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I don't know much about the behind the scenes of any show, and it was fascinating for me to learn about it. I learned later that some of this was autobiographical and that totally makes sense to me, because the authenticity of the book jumps from the pages. I also loved the characters-- particularly, her grandmother, the two Daves, who are her staunch mentors in this business, and some of the cast that she auditions. Weiner definitely has a way with words. The ending for me, was perfect-- I couldn't imagine it ending any other way.
That said, in entirety, this isn't a perfect book. My biggest beef with the book is Ruth herself. She really skates on the edge of being annoying with saying how ugly she is and how no one is ever going to love her because of her disfigurement, etc. I feel like this could be scaled back a bit, because we already get that she has these insecurities. I also thought that some of the two dimensional characters could have been fleshed out more-- like the air headed star of the show, Cady. We never get to see a good side of her. It's fun to hate the pretty, but they aren't all awful. Because of this, the plot seemed heavy handed in places: pretty equals bad, and disfigured or ugly equals good, rather than one can still be happy, successful and lead a meaningful life even if their outsides are not the norm.
That said, Weiner is a talented writer, and I'll definitely be picking up some of her other books.