As has become my habit lately, I was up until about 2 a.m. finishing Jennifer Weiner’s Little Earthquakes, the second book of Weiner’s I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy in recent months. It really had an impact on me — all the subtle turns of phrase, the moments where Weiner picks you up and turns you on your head just as you’re settling into the story.
Let me start out by saying what a huge fan I am of chick lit — despite (or maybe because of) the opinions of a few so-called literary professors I had in the English department at the University of Maryland. As an English major, I was taught to regard “chick lit” with a healthy dash of condescension, dislike and even scorn. It’s “low brow.” It’s cliched. It’s unrealistic.
It’s also wildly entertaining.
As I grew up, got older and began to relate more and more to many of the 20-something female lead characters who populate much of the chick lit genre, I’ve devoured more or less everything I could get my hands on. I’ve poured extensively over Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, Laura Weisberger and Candace Bushnell. I’ve read about shopaholics, klutzy grad students, stylish personal assistants and tons and tons of writers. And I’ve enjoyed it all — most of it, anyway. But there’s one person that really stands out from the pack.
Critics and readers alike love to describe authors as “fresh,” “fun” and “lively” — whatever those words really mean. But in Jennifer Weiner’s case, I have to say I find them stunningly accurate. I’d heard about her books for the past few years or so, but hadn’t ever paused long enough to throw one of her books in my ever-growing “to be read” stack. But I broke down about a month ago and got Good in Bed, based in no small part on my rampant curiosity.
The strengths of Little Earthquakes and Good in Bed are entirely due to Weiner’s ability to create these dynamic, complicated and, at times, broken women, present them to us with all of their flaws, insecurities and inabilities, and really make us care about them. Really care about them. I cried through Little Earthquakes far more than I’d expected to, and found myself feeling oddly deflated as I unexpectedly reached the end of the book. I fell head over heels for the plights of Becky, Lia, Kelly and Ayinde, and had a hard time falling asleep last night after their particular stories, for me, were over.
As I told a friend today, Weiner is the chick lit goddess — she’s chick lit done right. She takes all of the cliched concepts of love, dating, marriage and sex so prevalent in chick lit and completely annihilates our pre-conceived notions of how each should play out in a good book. Her novels have many characters, but I don’t feel like I’m being thrown just a raw sketch of a person. I get to know the strong, funny and vulnerable women Weiner creates, jumping straight into their worlds without a moment’s hesitation. She draws you in from word one and just won’t let go.
Now I see what all the fuss was about.
4.5 out of 5!