Then Came You
I read all kinds of books. I’m more drawn to what I guess is called “literary fiction” or the classics, or some under appreciated but somehow “worthwhile” novel. Every now and then I will indulge in a bit of “brain candy” as I like to call it. I usually do not admit this. There was one time, back when I was teaching, and the assistant principal (and a member of my book club) caught me reading a Nora Roberts novel my grandmother had given me. I probably turned three shades of red as I stammered out an explanation.
Why is this? I think it has to do with the fact that many books by female authors are thought to be silly and not worth reading. And honestly, that reeks of sexism. I mean, if you’re caught reading I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, it may be embarrassing, but for other reasons. People generally probably aren’t thinking you’re incapable of reading anything more serious. They might (rightfully, IMHO) think you have bad taste.
Jennifer Weiner seems to have become one of the more visible authors pushing back against these stereotypes. I give her a lot of credit for doing this, because it’s not easy countering sexism in public, under your real name, wanting your ideas to be seriously considered.
So in recognition of that, I decided to read one of Ms. Weiner’s books, Then Came You. Was it my favorite book? No. It was fine. Three stars, which is pretty typical for how I rate books (46 out of the 113 books I read last year were 3 star reads). Did I enjoy my time reading it? Yes. It was a cute story.
I liked that the main female characters each had their own voice and personality. I could even see them in my mind’s eye, which is pretty rare for me. I usually just gloss over descriptions and see everyone as a blurry outline. I liked that there were POC and lesbian characters who weren’t stuck in there just because. I liked that I learned a bit about egg donation and non-traditional ways of having children.
Some of the details did make me roll my eyes. Please, I know New York is an expensive city, but believe me, if you make $100K a year and live in a crappy apartment with three roommates you should not have a hard time making that work. And you aren’t looking for the most economical route to get somewhere in the city. You use your monthly unlimited transit pass and hop on the subway or bus, not thinking twice. Maybe that’s nit-picky, but I hate it when authors get details so wrong. I don’t know about a lot of things, but when I know you’re getting stuff wrong, it makes me wonder what else is inaccurate.
The other main thing I dislike was that one character, India, seemed to change a couple of times with no real warning or explanation. She goes from über-evil gold digging stepmother to loving wife at the drop of a hat. just a quick:
“[A]t some point, I’d actually fallen in love with my husband.”
So, the book certainly wasn’t perfect. But I’ve read far, far worse. I liked this way better than Pillars of the Earth or Bonfire of the Vanities, two books by men that are raved over and celebrated and I thought were garbage.
Double standards, perhaps?