"The Next Best Thing," follows Ruth Saunders, an aspiring 28 year-old writer who lives in Los Angeles with her grandmother. Ruth's parents were killed in a car accident when she was just a little girl. Ruth survived but suffered severe facial scars that impact her self esteem. However, Ruth is determined to realize her childhood dream of writing and producing a sitcom as warm and funny as the ones she grew up with. When her dreams are realized and she gets produce her show, "The Next Big Thing," she soon discovers it's not as dreamy as she thought when meddling executives, temperamental actresses, and budgets threaten her creative vision. On top of that she is trying to cope with her grandmother's engagement and her unrequited crush on her adorable boss, Dave.
I loved this novel. I've always wanted to be a screenwriter. I went to college with dreams of being a writer/producer. I've got tons of ideas and scripts that never went anywhere so it was exciting to read a story about a girl who gets to live that dream. While Ruth's experiences prove that it isn't quite as wonderful as you'd imagine, she was so motivated that it made me motivated. I also enjoyed Ruth's grandmother's Hollywood experiences as an extra and her relationship with Maurice. It was so refreshing to read about a 70 year-old who still lives boldly. It was also interesting to read about Ruth's (seemingly) unrequited love Dave. His paralysis didn't get in the way of his dreams either. While this novel is full of heart, it doesn't shy away from criticizing Hollywood's quirks. Ms. Weiner was the co-creator and co-executive producer of the short lived ABCFamily sitcom, "State of Georgia," so she certainly has first-hand experience of the tribulations a showrunner would face.
I encourage everyone to read "The Next Best Thing." You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll stay up all night reading it! You can read a sample of the novel, here, where you'll also find a list of all the places where you can pre-order it.
What's the next best thing to a sit-down interview? An email interview, of course. I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Weiner via email for a brief chat about the novel, writing, and The Bachelorette.
If you'd like the opportunity to meet Ms. Weiner and ask her some questions of your own, head on over to her blog for details on how you can win such an opportunity. Or, you could attend one of her signings.
Happy Reading !
Note: I received no financial compensation for this review or interview. I just love to promote great books. Special thanks to Jennifer Weiner for participating in my email interview and her publicist for sending me an advanced copy of "The Next Best Thing."