"The Next Best Thing" by Jennifer Weiner

At the age of twenty-three, Ruth Saunders packed up her life and moved across the country, heading to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming a television writer.  Along for the move is her seventy year old grandmother, who raised Ruth after a tragic accident took her parents lives when she was young. 

Things don't immediately go smoothly for Ruth but after four years she hits the big time when her sitcom, The Next Best Thing, gets picked up.  Based on her own life, the show is Ruth's dream come true.  But the dream is short lived as Ruth comes up against Hollywood executives and demanding actors.  Add to this pressure her grandmothers impending nuptials and a secret crush on her boss and Ruth begins to realize that Hollywood is not all it's made out to be.

The Next Best Thing is Jennifer Weiner's newest novel and a continuation of her short story Swim, first published in The Guy Not Taken.  Weiner's own experience in Hollywood as writer and producer of the television show State of Georgia lends an insider experience to the story. 

The character of Ruth is immediately likeable and endearing.  Sporting the scars of the accident that took her parents, Ruth isn't your typical Hollywood player.  But she dreams of the television world that got her through her difficult childhood and knows she has what it takes to write her own show.  But once there, she's unsure if she has what it takes to survive the roller coaster that is Hollywood.

I love the insider look you get from this novel.  There's nothing juicier than a Hollywood novel written by someone who has been there.  And I love the way Jennifer Weiner uses real stars as the basis for some of the Hollywood players in her own novel.  This book is definitely a page-turner, one that draws you in right from the beginning. 

I had been slightly disappointed by Weiner's last two books but The Next Best Thing has her back on track in my book and proves why Weiner is a firmly established voice for women in fiction.


  1. I read this short story and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of the novel! Great review!


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