Actors aren’t the only ones trying to make it in Hollywood.…At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders left her childhood home in Massachusetts and headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to make it as a screenwriter. Six years later, she hits the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the showrunner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on her boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear for writer’s room showdowns and an eye for bad backstage behavior and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller coaster, a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.
The main story surrounds the backstage goings-on in the world of television producing, which is cut-throat and at times unfair. But I felt the true story was about Ruth’s growth. At the beginning of the book I found myself feeling so sorry for her I almost didn’t want to continue. If you feel the same, push through. In the end Ruth’s “next best thing” turns out to be different from what she thought she wanted, but even more satisfying!
An interesting side note: Ms. Weiner was able to complete her author’s research for this book through her real-life experiences writing and producing a short-lived television show called State of Georgia on the ABC Family network. It lasted nine episodes, and much of The Next Best Thing parallels Weiner’s experiences with State of Georgia.
Although I find Ms. Weiner’s work to be a bit too predictable, the novels I’ve read have been entertaining, well-written, and in the end I’ve never been disappointed.
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