- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; 1st Printing edition (July 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451617755
- ISBN-13: 978-1451617757
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 478 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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)
About the Author
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty 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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She soon discovered that she was at the mercy of the network brass,and without power, watched her vision disintegrate into a show she barely recognized as her own. Her loving grandmother became a geriatric sex kitten; Ruth's character, an anorexic hottie. The show aired to Ruth's mixed feelings. Her dream of making it in Hollywood came true but at a price.
Ms. Weiner told a story that is likely to resonate with those who create at the direction of others. Even computer programmers like me have undergone the tweaking stages. "Just a little change here, a tweak there - won't change a thing" as one's dream is tweaked into oblivion. Ruth was no longer proud of her work because it was her work in name only.
Jennifer Weiner created great characters. I particularly liked Ruth's grandmother, who was no little blue-haired lady. She was funny and endearing, not to mention fearless. Within a few days of her arrival in Hollywood, she had a job as an extra, from which Ms. Weiner drew many humorous vignettes. Ruth was a likable, authentic young woman, who had suffered terrible injuries in the car accident and still had major scarring on one side of her face. And I cannot forget The Two Daves, well drawn ancillary characters.
Best of all for me was Ms. Weiner's signature humor in the face of adversity. Even as the ship was sinking, she made me laugh. Her descriptions of actors she was forced to put on her show were priceless.
This was not Jennifer Weiner's best book, but I enjoyed it immensely. I identified so much with Ruth, who tried to do the right thing but did not know how to play the game until it was almost too late.
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.
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!!!