Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

It's a dream come true for writer Ruth Saunders when the sitcom she created (based on her relationship with her grandmother, Rae) is picked up by a network. Rae raised Ruth from the age of three, after Ruth's parents died in a car accident.  The accident left her with a long scar on the right side of her face and an eye that looks less than perfect, but Ruth has always had her grandmother at her side, believing in Ruth and wanting her to be successful on her own terms. The reality of being at the helm of a TV show sets in quickly for Ruth, though, with compromises in casting and scripting that take the sheen off her sense of accomplishment. She also has to juggle her busy work schedule with Rae's upcoming wedding and her own crush on former boss and mentor, Dave.  Will Ruth be glad in the end that she achieved something incredible or end up regretting that she tried at all? The Next Best Thing has a character at its center that the reader really cares about, cast into the backdrop of Los Angeles sitcomland.  Since Weiner herself created a sitcom for ABC Family, it's interesting to speculate how much of what happens in the novel is true.  Either way, it makes for an enjoyable read.

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