Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The Best of Enemies (book review)
I've been a fan since Bitter is the New Black, when Lancaster was served with a big helping of humble pie and shared her experience. After the success of this first tome, she hit all the sweet spots with a series of memoirs that made her readers feel like we were in the cool kids' club with her: books about life, dieting and exercise, home renovations, all the things that the collective we do.
Then, Lancaster started writing fiction. Fiction laced with pop culture and snark and humor and tangents. Which is so my thing. Needless to say, I was hella excited to read these fictional stories, as much as I'd been to read the memoirs.
Truth: I wasn't really a fan of the fiction. Therefore, I didn't expect to have a strong reaction to The Best of Enemies. I didn't expect to hate it or love it, but just sort of read it, smile and move on. But after a moment where I set the book aside because it annoyed me (the back and forth in time is sometimes distracting. Well, at least for the easily distracted), I devoured this story.
Truth: this story did indeed make me hate it in a few points but in way more points, it made me laugh out loud and shed a few tears.
I read another review of this book, and they said they weren't sure who the target audience was. I can see that: not a lot of sex, not a lot of violence, a whole lot of talking (And swears; spoiler alert? Ladies be sweary, which is alright by me). This book is for me, for moms, for women who maybe enjoy reading about unvarnished friendships that were like the ones they had in their own lives.
Some areas veer off into tangents of over explanation that maybe were not necessary, but Jen Lancaster is good at the tangents (anyone who's read her memoirs knows that), and through these tangents I learned that my eyes aren't blue or green or gray but rather a result of "central heterochromia iridum." Me and Angelina Jolie. Who knew?
At its heart, this is a book about women and friendship, a sometimes rocky, sticky thing that is never, in my experience, easy. And making friends when we go through big life changes (like the characters here do) connects us strongly to others. Problem being, in these cases, we probably aren't completely ourselves, but a strange hyper-focused version of ourselves. And then when the life change is over and we resume to our regularly scheduled personas, those friendships also need to change, because hopefully we don't always live at the intersection of OH MY GOD! and THIS SHIT IS HARD! When life becomes more normal and less heightened, it can be a struggle to adapt to the normal, as much as it might have been a struggle to adapt to the intensity. We need to learn again where we connect to one another.
So, anyway; if you're a fan of Jen Lancaster or looking for a good read with strong themes of friendship, check this one out. Then call me up for some misadventures.