The reviews I had read of this book, both in People magazine, here on Amazon, and elsewhere had led me to believe that this book was a laugh a minute- sorta like Bridget Jones. Well, it is, but it isn't. The Bridget Jones books are cartoons, really- exaggerations of life.
This book is really more realistic and less extreme. Shannon (the main character here) doesn't obsesses and worry about her body every second, but those worries about her thighs and breasts do exist and are a part of her character.
She is 30, she is single, hates her job, dates a loser who treats her like crap and tries to have sex with her while she's asleep, her younger sister does get married out from under her, she is depressed, she does love Target (I hear ya, sister)- but those are the superficial elements of the story.
The way I see it, this story is best exemplified by this: her mom is sick, and needs surgery. Her mom says to Shannon, "Sickness is a part of life. I look at this as an adventure, an opportunity to learn." And Shannon replies, "I hate learning. I wish we could all be dumb and happy." Really, this book is about Shannon's recognition that you can't just stay dumb and happy- that you have to learn and stop making the same mistakes with men and career because otherwise, you'll have the same unhappiness over and over again.
This book is about growing up and realizing that life isn't fair, and people aren't fair, and you have to quit expecting fairness and trying to control things that you have no control over. And it's about recognizing how you got those expectations. Her mom (Flo), asks Shannon, "Did your father and I do this to you? Is it something we didn't do?" And Shannon replies, "Women's magazines did this to me. Watching Love Boat did this. I did this to myself."
I really liked this book- it's quiet and normal- Bridget is chaotic and drunk and smoking and I laughed my way all the way through Bridget. But I could relate to Shannon because she was real, in a way very much like the character in The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing (except not placed in ubiquitous New York).
This does NOT mean that this book isn't funny- it's hilarious. Shannon's sense of humor is extremely dry, and she is really a great writer. I can't wait for her next book.
I really see this book and "Getting Over It" as sort of the next evolution in what could best be described as the Single/30 literature.