Monday, July 14, 2014

What I read on my vacation

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
I always eagerly await Weiner's new releases but I have to say this time I was disappointed.  It seemed like she was trying too hard to be accepted as a "serious writer" and thus strayed from her lighter, and in my view more entertaining, stories.

In this book, Allison Weiss is a woman in her mid-thirties who finds herself addicted to pain killers.  She started them after dental surgery and an injury, but due to pressures with her job, her marriage and her daughter keeps renewing them through different doctors and eventually ordering them illegally over the internet.  She finds they allow her to face financial pressures (she is suddenly the primary breadwinner when she was supposed to be a stay at home mom but her husband's journalism job is not that lucrative and a book deal he thought he had fell through while her blogging about the life of a mother has taken off), her father's Alzheimer's diagnosis and taking care of her mother who has always been dependent on him, and a hyper sensitive pre-schooler.

For a long time she is able to hide her problem from those around her but eventually mixing painkillers with wine catches up with her and she is "caught" by her daughter's kindergarten teacher.  When she is confronted by her husband he checks her into a rehab centre and we watch how she struggles with that - trying to differentiate herself from the other women in the program.

Eventually she gets clean, though there are consequences...

While there were some witty passages, I felt Weiner's trademark humour and fun reading was not as prominent as I like in her books.  I read her books to escape and this one was just a bit too serious for my taste, but not deep enough to qualify as great literature.  Weiner does write well and I guess if I hadn't chosen this expecting something lighter, I would have enjoyed the book more.

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer
Thayer did not disappoint me in delivering a great beach read that I could escape into while on vacation.

Maggie Drew and Emma Hudson meet in Nantucket the summer they are 5 years old and become inseparable summer friends though Emma's parents would prefer she hang out with "her own kind" rather that the daughter of the local seamstress.  Despite parental interference the friendship holds through their teenage years and early twenties, even when Emma falls in love with Maggie's older brother, Ben.

However, their friendship is tested when both become enchanted by the smooth Wall Street trader, Cameron Chadwick.  Even though there are ups and downs, in the end each of the girls gets the guy she was meant to be with, and their young daughters start a friendship that looks like it will last as many years.

After this book all I read on vacation were very inexpensive romance e-books which all followed the same pattern - girl meets boy, fights falling for boy, falls for him anyway and after several miscommunications and misunderstandings they get together in the end and everyone lives happily ever after.  None were worth mentioning by name but they served the purpose of keeping me entertained without having to concentrate too much while I was on vacation.

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