A protagonist doesn’t have to be likable (see How Perfect Is That by Sarah Bird), but then she needs to be someone you love to hate. Ruth was simply annoying with her lifelong insecurities stemming from a car accident that killed her parents and scarred her face. I couldn’t help but feel that Ruth saw slights even when there were none simply because of her lack of self-confidence. Ruth became even more exasperating when the show she’d based on her life with her grandmother got greenlit and then she acted completely naïve to the entire process even though she’d worked on other TV shows. Although Ruth was clearly supposed to be sympathetic, she and her grandmother lost my respect entirely when they were rude to a store clerk.
There were many inaccuracies and inconsistencies throughout The Next Best Thing. These didn’t do much damage to the plot, but were incredibly distracting. It shouldn’t be too hard to remember the ages of characters, what they’re wearing, or what their housing situation was from just a few pages ago. Also, with The Golden Girls being so pivotal in the shaping of Ruth, a little research on the show (although The Golden Girls was never much for consistency in storylines itself) would be recommended. The Next Best Thing is entertaining despite the editing issues and annoying characters, but it does come across as Jennifer Weiner’s revenge for her failed show, State of Georgia (Cady’s weight loss in the book and Raven-Symoné’s real life weight loss are a little too similar to be coincidence).
Review copy provided by the publisher, Atria.