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Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back Paperback – September 2, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bosnak is a young professional with big dreams and a taste for all things Gucci and Prada. When she lands a job as a producer for a new talk show, she packs up her bags and moves to New York, where she finds a not-so-cheap apartment in Manhattan. Surrounded by hip restaurants, enticed by high-end designer boutiques, and under the misconception that you should never be seen in the same outfit twice, Karyn lets her spending spiral out of control. She owes $25,000 when she loses her job. Unwilling to phone home for help, Karyn takes the advice of a friend and creates a want ad for money. The twist--she posts her ad on the Internet. With the help of good-hearted strangers, debt consolidation, and the selling of her possessions on eBay, Karyn pulls herself out of debt. Since the story is told with self-deprecating humor and charm, Karyn's naivete and lame excuses for overspending are palatable, becoming a cautionary tale of the dangers of credit cards and the power of pride over Prada. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Funny, sweet, downright scary...and ultimately so uplifting. I identified on every page and with every purchase." Marian Keyes "Gutsy, fun and inspiring." Cosmopolitan "A fabulous story of girl-power and sheer brazen cheek." Scottish Daily Record "Funny, sweet, incredibly honest, and a bit scary too!" The Last Word "A winner...heartwarming to see the milk of human kindness winning through." Mirror --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; First Edition edition (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060558199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060558192
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,399,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Barger on September 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
I liked this book in many ways. Karyn is an appealing person despite her shops-till-she-drops habit. And in many ways her single in the city tale is far more realistic and interesting than a lot of the chic lit out there. Her issues with work (too much of it), boys (inattentive, potentially gay, etc.) and over-spending (and HOW) ring true.
However, it does ultimately have flaws in two areas.
Firs, while Karyn created a web phenomenon and led an interesting life, she isn't much of a writer. Lots of "anywhos" and shifting between past and present within the same paragraph. Some stories (the rodent in her bathroom, her dating a guy named Brad) are funny; other seem self-indulgent. To some extent, this is mimics her website, so maybe this is okay. But she seems like a smarter person than this, so I kept wondering if this book would've been better with a ghost writer.
Also, while she ingeniously pulled herself out of debt, Karyn doesn't seem to have analyzed what happened very much, or to have learned from it. I was expecting more insight into why she thought she over spent like that, and how her life was different now that she is out of debt.
I don't begrudge Karyn asking strangers for money-it's a great idea in its way-but she seems more interested in having her story made into a movie than in figuring out how to move on and live life without charging $600 coats and hundreds of dollars worth of cosmetics.
That story would've been more interesting, and I wish she had filled us in! How DO you change from a shopaholic to a frugal gal?
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I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this funny, quirky book, in which the author recounts how, as a woman in her late twenties with a low six figure job as a television show producer, she still managed to accumulate twenty thousand dollars worth of credit card debt in about a year's time. She did so by charging expensive personal services and designer merchandise. While I thought the author a shallow and silly sort of woman, I have to give her credit for moxie.

When the author found herself suddenly unemployed and saddled with this large debt load, she did not decide to go the bankruptcy route. Instead, she showed ingenuity by creating an interactive website whereby people could send her money to help her get out of debt, if they wished. Her website kept the public posted as to her progress in terms of her debt reduction. Her debt was reduced through donations made by the general public, her sale of her personal belongings on eBay, and whatever money she was able to pay from whatever job she could land.

The author details how, when she moved from her native Chicago to New York City, she got in debt. I found her story to be funny, although the writing is prosaic and somewhat juvenile, at times. It is also hard to believe that these were the antics of a woman in her late twenties. She showed little judgment and virtually no introspection. Still, the author managed to get rid of her debt in a matter of months and land a book and movie deal to boot. So, she is not a total ditz. If one takes this book at face value, one will enjoy this easy, breezy little read.

As for those who stand in judgment of the author and her frivolous accumulation of debt, keep in mind that she paid every last penny of her debt. She just chose a somewhat novel and imaginative way in which to do so. I suspect that those who are most irked by her success and the way in which she got rid of her debt, are those who only wish that they had thought of it first.
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I read this book to gain insight into why Karyn Bosnak became such a phenomenon. It's difficult to understand why her "cyber begging" gathered so much international attention. What she did was unusual at the time, but certainly not unique. Her website was honest and marginally interesting, but hardly worth more than a casual perusal (to me, at least). She had no paid advertising, and by her account, even the free advertising she did (on Craigslist) was very brief, and only at the beginning. Yet *something* caused her to reach the "tipping point," after which the publicity became self-feeding. My conclusion: She experienced a series of fortuitous events (chatty people saw her initial ads, and the right people read what the chatty people said). To be fair, it was not entirely a matter of luck. She came up with an unusual idea and actually DID something about it. Then (and most critically) she had good follow-through (she immediately consented to radio interviews - lots of them, she answered her mail, etc.).

However, I was somewhat surprised to find that despite the enormous amount of international media coverage and millions of hits to her website, in the 20 weeks it took her to pay off her debt, she actually only received $13,328 in donations from 2,718 people. (After that she claims to have quit accepting donations.) A windfall of $13K is nothing to sneeze at, but it seems out of proportion to the enormous amount of attention she got. No doubt she has financially benefited far more from the *story* of her website (through this book, movie deal, and future deals) than she did from the website itself.

The book is actually not as bad as I expected.
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