1 of 1 members found this review helpful.
“It kills me to give this three stars. I'd give it three and a half of the system let me. I wanted to like this more than I did. I love Jen's memoirs. But I had the same issue with this as I had with Laurie Notaro's first fiction book - it's too close to the memoirs to truly feel like fiction which makes it feel inauthentic.
Had this been published as a memoir I'd be giving it four stars. But the things I disliked most about it (the far-too-convenient wrap of the angry neighbors conflict; the easy fix of the remodel issues at the end) were so out there that it wouldn't have happened in a memoir. And that's the heart of my problem with this book. Had the Mia character been farther from Jen and the Mac character farther from Fletch it would have been more believable. Plus the trademark footnotes were still there and she even broke the fourth wall to speak as Jen in one at the beginning. It caused a cognitive dissonance I didn't enjoy.
The other problem I had was the pacing. It's a novel supposedly about the strains of a remodel on a marriage. I read this on a Kindle and they didn't find the house until 21% of the novel was past. The rehab started around 40%. That's an awful lot of set up where very little actually happens except extensive conversations about houses and John Hughes. Again, this would have worked in a memoir because it doesn't need a strong through-line plot. But it weakens the novel.
All of that said, I will continue to by everything Jen writes because even with the flaws in this book it's well written and funny as always. I have high hopes that her next novel will feature more original characters and she'll knock it out of the park. Laurie Notaro's second novel, Spooky Girl, was one of my favorites and I think Jen's will be the same.”
Shae G wrote this review Wednesday, May 18, 2011.