This month, we were looking for a light, fun book. In October, we read a spooky ghost story. We were growing desperately weary with election coverage and the general onset of colder times. We wanted something nice. We wanted something that felt like… like putting on your jammies and watching Gilmore Girls. We deserved it! So we decided, what better place to go looking for that kind of a vibe than by reading a book written by Lauren Graham aka Lorelei Gilmore! I mean, that will do it. And you know what? This book read exactly like I would expect a Gilmore Girls script to read (I mean the plot and characters and most everything was completely different but it read very GG-y IMO).
The book opens with Franny realizing that she’s got exactly 6 months left on her deadline to make it as an actor before she decides to cash out, move back home, marry her college sweetheart, and get a normal job. This book follows her for the next six months as she nears her deadline.
Okay, so here’s the thing. I desperately want you to read Staci and Stephanie’s reviews more than I want you to read mine. Or maybe just make a point to read theirs in addition to mine, please. Because, and I don’t know this for certain, I’m just assuming, I’ll bet they actually liked this book. I certainly can’t say that I hated it or anything but I did give it two stars on Goodreads.
Oh, it feels so vulnerable to not like a book in a book club. It feels like you’re the only one. I feel so exposed!
I mean, look, this book has everything that I should want in a fluffy, fun, not-too-cerebral tome: a 20-something lady trying to break into acting in NYC, a fun cast of characters, love and romance, an insight into a world that I know nothing about, a very coming-of-age type of vibe (even though that’s usually about teenagers, I think we all have a whole new coming-of-age story about our late twenties, too). It’s even really, really funny!
Ugh. But in addition to all of the parts that should have made it a slam dunk for me, it also contained nearly every single deal-breaking pet peeve of mine. Like, if I wasn’t reading this for the book club, I wouldn’t have made it past the third chapter. But I’m glad that I did because by the 28th chapter, she was really coming into her own! I didn’t mean for that to sound as snarky as it did—but it’s true. At chapter twenty eight I thought, “finally I wish the whole book read this way.” I don’t know if it took her that long to get her groove or maybe it just took me that long to get in-groove with her. The world may never know.
A small sampling of my own pet-peeves realized in this book:
Right out of the gate, the main character is working so, so hard to present herself as adorably quirky. I don’t mind a quirky character but this just reminded me so much of those people who say things like, “I’m the kind of person who is just like so random!” and then collapses into a fit of giggles as if it’s just so hilarious to be unpredictable. I feel like this could have been tweaked by presenting the book in third person instead of a first person narrative. Like, on New Girl, Jess Day gets away with being this quirky, plucky girl because we get to see her presented to us. But if I had to read her diary of everything that she did that day and why? I’d probably burn it.
In fact, I argue that she should have told this story as a television series instead of a novel. Not even a movie—because she just covers so much ground that a movie would chop it all down. Someday Someday Maybe should be/ should have been on TV.
Another thing about Graham’s writing style that I just can’t handle is the fact that she over-describes everything. One tiny example, in one scene she meets her friends at a bar and goes out of her way to tell the reader that the bartender’s name is Kevin even though we never speak to him or meet him again at any other point in the book. We literally never experience Kevin at all. This came at a point when I was just so tired of the over-explaining of things that I just set the book down for a few days. It was the tedious straw that broke the camel’s back.
In another spot there are two pages devoted to how she decided which chair to sit in when she goes to a meeting. This is what I mean, this would go over so well in an episode of Gilmore Girls. I can see Lorelei and Rory having a conversation all about how to decide which chair to take. The tediousness is the joke! But when it’s just one character narrating her thought process, it’s… rage inducing.
If this book was adapted into a TV Series, I would love to see it. But reading it as a book was hard for my brain. (I have about ½ a dozen more pet peeves but I’m not going to share them because we don’t have the space, I don’t want to get too bogged down in negativity, and I want to get onto the things that I did love.)
Franny is constantly doing things that don’t make any sense at all. Her actions almost never line up with her thought process. At first, this really bugged me because I saw it as a flaw in the writing. I thought that Graham was doing just a really bad job of showing us the character’s motivation. But I was willing to roll with it because sometimes in life, we just really end up doing things that don’t make any sense when we consider the way we should be behaving in a certain scenario. Like one time where she’s interacting with a man who is driving her crazy and really getting under her skin and won’t listen to her when she tells him that she is hungry and wants to go home aaaaand then she ends up making out with him. We do things when we’re hungry and at our wit’s end that we would never advise our best friends to do. These points felt honest to me most of the time.
Another thing that I really liked was the way that she used images from her filofax (or, planner, which I learned after I Googled “filofax”) and her answering machine to mark the passage of time and add insight into how she’s dealing. We get to see that she’s having a slow week or a hectic week. We get to hear whether she’s returning her calls or avoiding people. Though, here I am with a pet-peeve again. The use of the answering machine is brilliant but she uses it inconsistently. For some characters, it shows us that she’s avoiding them. But then her father is saying, “Please call me back, we never talk.” When he says that, it’s just to demonstrate that he’s one of those parents that always complains that you never call. But that isn’t explained until, like, the very end. So, for most of the book I was trying to decide if she did or did not have a good relationship with her father since he was saying the same things that ex boyfriends were saying on the answering machine. It really muddled my reading of her character. I’m sure if I could have heard his tone of voice it wouldn’t have been so confusing to me.
See, even this thing that I truly loved was visual or auditory—are you hearing me when I say that she should have written a television show instead of a book?
Despite all of this that I have said, this book made me really excited to read Lauren Graham’s memoir—which was released just yesterday. I think she’ll do awesome with a non-fiction format.
And next on the docket! We are entering into the holiday season and looking for something cozy and heartwarming. We’re hoping to get that with A Man Called Ove. It’s a relatively recent release—I’ve seen it everywhere which I think it a pretty good sign. Have you read it?
So if you want to read along with us, let’s do it! You can read the book and write a review OR just tell us what you think in our brand new Virtual Book Club Facebook group! Leave a comment for me if you want to join and I’ll send you out an invitation. We think that using this format will help to facilitate more actual discussion about the books rather than just reading the same books and writing about them. I hope it gives us more of a book club vibe than a book report vibe which is how it has sometimes felt around here, for me anyway.
Have you ever read a book that you felt should have been told in another format?
What are some of your pet-peeves when it comes to reading?
Do you think I was too hard on this book?