Title: The Next Best Thing
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Review: I often hear interviews with writers bemoaning the fact that their baby was absolutely gutted and destroyed by the powers to be in Hollywood, but have not truly understood it. The Next best Thing documents the entire process from the point of view of one young writer who has created a touching sitcom about a young girl and her grandmother moving to the big city. Given that Jennifer Weiner herself has recently creating a sitcom for network TV I am willing to believe there is a lot of truth to be found within its pages. (She developed State of Georgia.)
This book is a fascinating inside look at the television production process and just how too many cooks do indeed spoil the broth. As a writer you would think you would know best how to tell a story, especially since you have thousands of books sold to prove it. Or as a comedian you get direct audience feedback on whether you are funny or not would know best on what funny is. Well welcome to Hollywood where nameless suits sit behind desks and pick apart everything you believe in. Instead of giving in to the true creative progress they try to force everything into a mold of previous successes and then wonder why audiences get bored and feel they have seen it all before. It would be like telling an author like the great Jennifer Weiner on her next book, “Could you add some teenage magicians who have to fight each other to death” because that is what people are going for these days.
The set upon writer is the naïve Ruth, mistaken both professionally and personally, she is never quite sure of herself when navigating this superficial and dangerous world. Life should be great when she sells her show but she is forced one small bite at a time to swallow her dignity as she tries to get her show made. Like most bad things in our lives, we don’t get there all at once but rather we make small seemingly insignificant compromises one after another. On a lesser person it would break their spirit, but our heroine Ruth decides enough is enough and fights back to reclaim her pride.
Now this is still Hollywood so a happy ending is definitely possible, but even so it stands a message to all of us. Stand up for what you believe in, it is the only chance you have at happiness.
Publisher: Published July 3rd 2012 by AtriaBooks
Quick Review: 4 out of 5 stars
Why I Read It: I enjoy well written humorous fiction
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review
Synopsis: Blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood…
At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
Author Biography: Jennifer Weiner was born in 1970 on an army base in Louisiana. She grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Princeton University. She worked as a newspaper reporter in Central Pennsylvania, Lexington, Kentucky, and Philadelphia, before the publication of her first novel, GOOD IN BED, in 2001. She is the author of the novels IN HER SHOES (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture; LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, (2004), GOODNIGHT NOBODY (2005), the short story collection THE GUY NOT TAKEN (2006) and CERTAIN GIRLS (2008), the sequel to GOOD IN BED. There are more than 9 million copies of her books in print in 36 countries.