Tag Archives: jennifer weiner

In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes: I read the book some time ago and mostly enjoyed it, though I didn’t feel it was quite as tight as some of Weiner’s other novels. The movie removed the parts that bugged me about the book, such as the all-too-convenient flashbacks and the weird part about camping out at the Princeton library, while keeping most of the good stuff: the believable characters, the funny one-liners and exchanges, and the happy ending. Not a movie I’d necessarily want to watch again, but it was a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Assorted Book Reviews

I am totally behind on my book reviews, so here are a whole bunch at once.

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan: A little like a lighter version of The Joy Luck Club, except with Indian women instead of Chinese, this is the story of three women who immigrated to America from India and their relationships with their American-born daughters. Nothing too heavy here, but I liked the characters, there was quite a bit of Indian history I’d never learned before, and the pace was nice and quick. At the end of each chapter there are recipes for Indian dishes, both traditional and Americanized. I did not prepare any of them, but it’s a clever way of drawing the reader further into the story. Good beach read.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (unabridged audiobook read by Firdous Bamji): Usually I can’t bring myself to be interested in others’ quests for enlightenment, but this is surprisingly good. The excellent reader is of course a big part of that, but the story itself left me with quite a bit of food for thought. While Siddhartha himself finds the Right Path eventually, the reader is left to find his own way. After all, without trying many paths in life, Siddhartha would not have reached his goal. I can imagine one getting different things out of this book depending on where in life they are. I may have to pick it up again in a decade or two.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (unabridged audiobook read by Flo Gibson): I had a lot of trouble with this one. The language was difficult, Gibson read way too quickly, and for most of it I had no idea what was going on. Perhaps if I’d read a paper copy I’d have enjoyed it more.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer: A beautifully tragic account of young Chris McCandless’s journey (and subsequent death) in the wilds of Alaska. Using diary entries, interviews with people who knew McCandless, and some similar historical endeavors, Krakauer attempts to uncover the motivations and thought processes behind the urge to experience nature in unbelievably dangerous situations. I have never had such an urge in my life, so the description of such an alien frame of mind enthralled me. I have mixed feelings about McCandless himself; I think he mistreated a lot of people who cared about him, but it sounded like he was on the brink of turning his life around there at the end. This story would not have worked as a novel – the premise is just too unbelievable and the timeline far too jumpy – but knowing it was true kept me turning pages until the very end. I agree with the review in the Washington Post, printed on the back cover: “Anyone who ever fancied wandering off to face nature on its own harsh terms should give a look.”

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner (unabridged audiobook read by Johanna Parker): Kate Klein is a bored housewife in a boring suburb full of SuperMommy neighbors who look down their noses at her. When the least despicable of them is murdered and the police have no suspects, Kate starts investigating on her own. However, this isn’t really a mystery novel. Like Weiner’s other novels, it’s more about relationships and motherhood – two subjects she tackles expertly and very humorously. The ending is surprisingly satisfying, though not especially tidy. Parker, who also read Little Earthquakes, was a great choice for this story as well. One of these days I’ll stop feeling embarrassed for liking Weiner novels. They really are very enjoyable.

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner (unabridged audiobook read by Johanna Parker): Though stories of multiple people all experiencing different variations on the same theme are far from uncommon, this one is reasonably fresh and enjoyable. Here we have four mothers (current, former, and soon-to-be) from four different backgrounds, each dealing with issues with her marriage and with her mother (or mother-in-law). The target audience is definitely mothers and mothers-to-be (and I think fathers could benefit from such an honest account of what their wives and girlfriends are going through), but I found myself sympathizing with the characters and wanting to know how things turned out. I especially empathized with Kelly. No, this book has not made me want children of my own, but it was a good story nonetheless. And it certainly didn’t hurt that it was read by a actress with amazing subtleties in her voice. Most of the men sounded alike, but she had an amazing range in her female voices.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner: This is my second Weiner book (the first being the popular Good In Bed), and I must say her writing is some of the most indulgent I’ve ever come across. The author insertion is so obvious – all the characters are Weiner (or her opposite, or a person she wishes she knew) in a different costume. The thing that separates her books from your average teen-penned romance is that her themes are so universal that author insertion becomes reader insertion. You see her characters and think, “That’s me. That’s my life.” Therein lies her appeal.

As with most chick lit, the plot was fluff and totally predictable from the start, but that did not make it any less enjoyable. Rose is the older, successful, overweight sister. Maggie is the younger, trouble-making, gorgeous sister. Throw in an intersecting story about an elderly woman named Ella who lives in Florida with her entertaining neighbors at the Golden Acres senior citizen community and you have a fun little romp of a story.

My only real complaint about this book was the all too convenient flashbacks. Too often someone would make some comment which would be followed by an explanation of some childhood event or something they “always” did, which for whatever reason had never been mentioned before. One glaring example of this was Sydelle’s strict adherence to the Jewish faith, which was never brought up until it became an issue. Such “oh by the way” moments made it feel like the character development was done on the fly.

All the same, this was a fun, quick read. Weiner’s always good for one-liners and amusing exchanges, and a happy ending is guaranteed. I don’t imagine most men would enjoy this book (though I think it could teach them a lot about the female psyche), but I would definitely recommend it to any woman looking for little bit of literary candy.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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