I don’t have a problem with Chick Lit. I sometimes enjoy a fluff book. There are times I want to pack my brain with important thoughts and ideas that will change my life, but then there are times where I just want to look at some words and think sort of mindless but happy thoughts.
However, when Chick Lit is bad… dear lords does it hurt. And there are different types of bad.
Type One: Just a shit book. Clichés, bad writing, horrible characters, predictable and pointless. The type of book that makes you cringe because not only was paper wasted to print the pages, but some fully functioning adult decided that publishing the book was a good idea. Someone with the job of deciding what books get to be published and sold read it and said “Yes. Yes, let’s do this!”
Type One sucks, but whatever. Just as there are plenty of shit movies out there, there will always be shit books. Hopefully you learn quickly how to identify them and train your body to avoid them when you’re browsing the shelves.
But Type Two… Type Two is the one that gets me.
A Type Two bad book is the kind that has potential. The characters are good, the writing is good, the plot is interesting. And then the author does something inexcusable with the plot that and it’s like when you find out that your best friend from middle school has been talking about you behind your back and stealing all of your friends and fuck her and her stupid cool jeans and awesome music collection. The author took the time to do something good, and then WTF? Did she panic about not having an ending and reach into Bag o’ Clichés? Did she have a good ending but she was worried people wouldn’t get it? Seriously, what happened?
Basic plot: Kate and Tully meet in eighth grade, become best friends, grow up, deal with shit, stay best friends, go to college, deal with shit, grow up, become adults, deal with shit, then aren’t best friends.
It’s a pretty basic Chick Lit plot, but I liked it. Kate and Tully were solid characters, even if their relationship and personalities were a bit clichéd. Kristin Hannah deals with the Chick Lit themes of one friend being more popular and dominant than the other friend as well as the struggles of career and/or marriage and/or kids.
Side note: This book makes me want to do a study of female friendships in literature. Is one friend always dominant and controlling in the friendship? Is it like this in real life? And why does it always seem to come down to marriage and children OR job that pays a jillion dollars but you don’t get a relationship or kids?
The book moves along and I did like the plot even if I did roll my eyes at some of the obvious clichés. I also wondered if other people see these as comfortable and universal themes. Is it because I don’t respond to it that I think they’re clichéd?
And then something pretty awesome happens that changed the book and I was all “Awwww YEAH! Now shit is going to HAPPEN!” and then it starts to happen, and this is where I think Kristin Hannah panicked or couldn’t figure out how to fix it or what because the resolution? ***SPOILER ALERT*** One of the characters in the book gets sick. Not sick. The character gets Really Sick.
I think I might have actually said “Are you fucking kidding me?” out loud when I read this part. Could she not figure out how to have the two main characters work out their issues without having to bring Really Sick into it? I was pissed.
Kristin Hannah talks about why this type of Really Sick was important to her and why she wanted to write about it, but I felt like she was writing two different books. It was like she had started Firefly Lane, then found out about this type of Really Sick and decided to finish it by adding in her new knowledge.
Yeah, yeah, I know people get Really Sick in real life and people need to deal with it, but it didn’t feel authentic here. It felt like “Fuck. I need to finish this book. Hmm, how do I get these two characters back in the same room at the same time? Oooooh, someone in the book needs to get Really Sick!”
I wish I could brush this off as a fluffy beach read, but it had potential. Maybe that’s what I’m mad about. I thought this book could have been a good book and it let me down. It let me down!!!