The Next Best Thing

By Jennifer Weiner

(Atria, $26.99, 400 pages)

Who is this author?

Jennifer Weiner is a fine example of local girl makes very, very good. A No. 1 best-selling author, she grew up in Simsbury, graduated from Princeton, became a journalist in Philadelphia, went on to write funny, perceptive novels with special appeal to women readers and has had the pleasure of seeing several of her 10 novels adapted as feature films. She first hit the big time with the instant bestseller “Good in Bed,” a classic get-even-with-a-cad novel, and among her other titles are “In Her Shoes,” “Then Came You,” “Certain Girls” and “Best Friends Forever.”

She also co-created and -produced the 2011 ABC Family sitcom “State of Georgia,” which gave her valuable insights into the world of TV sitcoms that add power to the new book.

What is this book about?

The heroine is 23-year old Ruth, who as a child lost her parents in a car crash and was badly scarred. Raised by her grandma, Rae, for whom the word “feisty” must have been coined, Ruth is whirled off from Massachusetts and after a few years of toiling in the Hollywood-and-Vine yard, her autobiographical sitcom idea about a talented young scriptwriter and her 70-year-old grandmother gets green-lighted. Ruth is hired to be the showrunner, and all is good….or is it? The book lays out just how tough it can be to make your dreams come true, even when they seem to be just ready to do so.

Why you’ll like it:

Weiner’s readers love her for her sharp and witty dialogue and her easy to relate to…or easy to despise…characters. You’ll root for Ruth and admire her exasperating granny,  who works as an extra and is one hot old babe. There are also some familiar Weiner players: the lead actress is struggling mightily with her weight and an annoying ditz lands a major role on the show. Add to that a rocky romance, and you’ve got a great beach book to drop into your beach bag this summer.

What others are saying:

“Weiner is coming off a year in Hollywood, and she puts the experience to excellent use in this utterly engaging story of a showrunner who, after six years of slogging, finally gets a series on the air, only to discover that her troubles are only beginning—meddling studio execs, egomaniacal actors and one crushable but unobtainable boss,” says Time.

Kirkus Reviews says: “Spares no bon mot in exposing Hollywood’s sexism, ageism and incurable penchant for extravagant silliness.”  

“Full of warm and interesting characters as well as a wealth of insider industry detail (Weiner was a co-creator of an ABC Family sitcom), this is a must-read for Weiner’s many fans and anyone who enjoys smart, funny fiction,” says Library Journal.

“An entertaining story about the dream-crushing compromises on the road from page to screen,” says People .

When is it available?

“The Next Best Thing” to read is on the shelves at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and the Camp Field and Goodwin branches.

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