My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This review is going to be a bit of a ramble, but that may be appropriate since the book was as well. I realize that I was reading an advanced reader's copy, but it read more like a second or third draft. Kelly is a mother of two teen/tween boys and is in the predicament of trying to 'find her purpose'. She makes an ever-growing, rambling list of Things to Change, or T2C as she puts it. I felt like this could have been a great book if her editor had handed it back to her and said 'Great! Now polish it up, give your characters some depth and insight and make your main character likeable.'
Kelly doesn't seem to have any real connections to her friends, past or present, and she just flits from one topic to another. One minute she's obsessed that her husband is having an affair, and the next she's off on another shopping spree with confrontation number 354 with her arch-nemesis, Rachel.
Honestly, the most likable character in the book was probably Charlotte, who was not necessarily intended to be your character of choice.
The only interpersonal conflicts in the book (aside from Rachel) are all tidied up swiftly with an 'aw shucks' chuck on the shoulder and Kelly, though she has almost zero insight save for the five thousand Oprah-esque a-ha moments, deems herself a very worthy counselor to all of her friends. It's definitely the Kelly show, which I like because it is supposed to be about her finding who she wants to be, but all the characters are so wooden and one-dimensional. They have these revelations that are supposed to be shocking, but I couldn't bring myself to care about them because the reactions by the other characters were so formulaic it was almost silly. I felt like I was reading a fast-talking parody of a women's fiction novel.
Also, could she throw in any more Lifetime Movie of the Week topics? Anorexic teen, adulterous friends who've put her in the middle of their secrets, making amends with high-school friends who you abandoned/bullied and then CONTINUE to call her Bony Beth, becoming a self-made woman, death of a loved one, divorce...seriously, pick 1-2 serious topics and actually explore them instead of having your main character come off as a completely shallow and self-involved twit. It made me a little sad because, and this may be reading too much into it, but I had to wonder if Rouda has a lot of close friends herself. If so, she didn't do a great job of drawing on her experiences with them to create dialogue or set-up of characters.
The woman is food-obsessed and, again, completely shallow and lacking insight when it comes to other people. She has her clothes sorted into weight-gain phases, talks about the benefits of 'having an anorexic around' and says other pretty callous things that drove me cra-zy as I read.
Would you really have your heroine do nothing but bring a bouquet of flowers to a friend whose estranged husband JUST DIED in a motorcycle accident. Really? You'd have to call your mother to see if you should bring a casserole to her, and the consult your friend to see if you're needed at the funeral? Um, how about you just show up and go? But that's just me.
The commentary on stay-at-home moms and their cattiness was about to make me send a little tweet to Miss Twitter Queen. Since it's clear Rouda is not an at-home mother, it made me wonder if this is her little soap box to talk about them? Yes, she is a proponent of women empowering themselves, but what if the way that we do that IS to stay at home? Is that not enough?
After finishing the whole book, I realized I should have read the 'about the author' section first. Really? Two pages? I don't need to know every class you've taken, or that you have a big twitter following. It is awesome that she is a great businesswoman, and strives to empower other women to realize their potential, but stick to what you are really good. Not everyone can write a novel. Or, I guess, not everyone should. Look out, folks, she's got another one coming out soon! You can find out all about it on her twitter feed, her facebook page, her blog or by emailing her. All of which is included in her biography. Which is clearly an autobiography.
Maybe I was just no in the best frame of mind to read this, but it's hard when you compare it to other women's fiction like Jennifer Weiner, who takes more care in creating characters and conflict resolution. While still beach reads, they're more sophisticated and well-crafted. And with that, I will end my rant. If you've read the actual released copy, am I missing something?
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