Sunday, August 06, 2006
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
I could really identify with Goodnight Nobody, as it's about a mom living in suburbia with a husband who she rarely sees and surrounded by neighbor moms who appear to be living perfect lives. Other mothers always seem more together, always have nutritous snacks on hand, always make sure their kids don't say or do the wrong thing, and the mothers themselves never have stained clothing or unkempt hair. Yet these same soccer mommies also have enough money that they can hire designers to fix their home, clothing consultants to buy them the right clothing, personal trainers to get them in shape, shop at the expensive Whole Foods store for groceries and hire maids and nannies when they need a break. So I've never felt too competative with them because I've never had that kind of dough, never had the parents who lived close by so they could care for my kid when I needed to interview somebody for a freelance article, or I just needed a break. And of course, I can't afford the chain-childcare prices, either, so you can assume that I don't have the money for trainers, nannies or designers. That's one of the few problems I had with the book, as the main character, Kate, kvetched and whined about her borning suburban life caring for her kids (she misses being a tabloid journalist) and not having anything decent to wear and being overweight, when from what was said about her husband, it sounded like she could easily have afforded maids, nannies, trainers and everything else to go with her ultra-expensive Connecticut home. I would have had more sympathy for the woman if she was like me, and had to do it all and still try to keep a freelance career going when you're facing bankruptcy from your husbands lack of financial acumen and you can barely pay the mortgage. That's a lot tougher than being wealthy and just not able to manage your time and your kids (and for some reason, though Kate is obviously furious that she became pregnant with twins soon after the birth of her ill-behaved daughter, she never considers abortion, though that was a good option for someone who felt over-burdened with one child, let alone three. The fact that she made the decision to have two more children that she clearly did not want also lessened my sympathy for her--she could also have used birth control). My other problem with Kate is that she's obnoxious and rude, which I assume we are supposed to find charming because she's from NYC, and she is gutless and stupid when it comes to some total airhead jerk named Evan. She fell for the guy when he was affianced to a b*tchy supermodel, and it was clear he was spineless and wouldn't leave the supermodel for chubby Kate, though he clearly found her attractive. Instead, Kate carries a torch for the guy until she meets a guy she finds to be kind and decent, and apparently good enough to marry, though she never really makes us believe that she loves the guy. When Evan shows up again after Kate finds her neighbor mom dead with a knife in her back, Kate goes back to being childish and stupid about him, and allows herself to get into several compromising situations with him, though he knows she is married (his marriage to the evil supermodel didn't work out, what a surprise). Again, though she is getting more sexual satisfaction from her showerhead than her husband, I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Kates lusty crush on Evan, because she just sat on the fence about it, she never actually got into bed with the man and left her husband, nor did she tell the jerk Evan to f-off because she wants to keep her vows to her husband. And the only thing she seemed to find attractive about Evan was his looks. He didn't seem to be a guy with good character, morals, brains or anything else that most women would find attractive, he was just good-looking, which says something about Kate being shallow, in addition to being ridiculous around Evan. And inevitably, Weiner never did tell us if Kate left her husband for good or planned on having a life with Evan. She left it all up in the air, which was frustrating. I've read all of Weiners previous books, and few of them had such unsatistfying endings. This book was her first murder mystery, and while I think she did a fair job of tracking down clues and making Kate a bungling sleuth, I wish to heck Weiner had worked on making Kate more likable and less obnoxious, and certainly smarter when it comes to confronting the perp. Yet, as a chick lit writer, Weiner is still a better writer than 75 percent of the chick lit scribes in existance.