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

3.5 out of 5 stars 460 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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.” (Bookreporter.com)

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen 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 JenniferWeiner.com.
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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 (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Next Best Thing has been on my to read list for a while. It's not a young adult novel, so I haven't had a chance to pick it up. It's been panned in reader reviews since then, and I decided on a rare whim not to listen to those reviews and see for myself.

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.
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