Sunday, October 23, 2016

Good in Bed

Title:  Good in Bed
Author:  Jennifer Weiner
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2001. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0743418166 / 978-0743418164

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'Have you seen it?' asked Samantha."

Favorite Quote:  "I've learned a lot this year ... I learned that things don't always turn out the way you planned, or the way you think they should. And I've learned that there are things that go wrong that don't always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I've learned that some broken things stays broken, and I've learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you."

"There were a thousand words that could have described me - smart, funny, kind, generous. But the word I picked - the word I believed the world had picked for me - was fat." That thought should be the heart of this book. Cannie (does anyone else see Connie throughout?) Shapiro has never really thought of herself as a larger woman until she opens a magazine and sees her ex-boyfriend writing about loving a large woman. So begins this adventure into Cannie's spiraling life.

Unfortunately for me, a few issues keep me from following Cannie on what I think is going to be a journey of moving beyond body image. First, Cannie is not a particularly likable character. A loving family, a Princeton education, a job, friends .... Cannie has a lot going for her in life. Unfortunately, her focus remains on what she sees as lacking in her life. At this time, it is not even her body image; it is primarily the boyfriend that got away. This critical approach to life permeates to Cannie's treatment of the people in her life. Her treatment of her mother and her partner is particularly atrocious. Cannie often times comes across as whiny and self-indulgent such that it's difficult to empathize with her predicament.

Second, the trigger for the book is an ex-boyfriend's very public article about their relationship, specifically about loving a larger woman. The article does not mention her by name; rather, it is about "C". However, Cannie knows, and her friends know. At first glance, the article is poking fun, and Cannie feels humiliated. Reading through the entire article, Cannie discovers the underlying sensitivity and understanding. This is a guy who gets this issue and gets her struggle. His article is by far my favorite part of the book. The problem is that his portrayal through the the rest of the book is inconsistent with that mindset. It doesn't flow. Without a spoiler, let's just say that the insight this article depicts does not match his actions later when his understanding is needed again.

Third, the entire Hollywood aspect of the plot is too far fetched. I am all for suspending disbelief in what is supposed to be a feel good fiction book, but this plot line is too far over the top. A chance meeting leads to an instant new best friend which leads to all kinds of amazing things. All the stars align a little too perfectly; it doesn't work because too many things are too far beyond belief. It also doesn't work especially with a main character very focused on what is not going right. At times, this segment of the plot gives the entire book a somewhat juvenile tone.

Fourth, a lot seems to happen in Cannie's life. Major family changes. Major career changes. Major life changes. The book goes from thing to thing to thing. Perhaps, less would have been more in this case. This book begins with the main issue of body image. As a result of all the other happenings in this book, that focus gets lost. This book has no message in that regard; it just is. Perhaps, I over analyze, but this was not the book for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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