Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Then Came You

Jennifer Weiner's latest novel, "Then Came You," focuses on four women who have similar goals in mind, either related to babies, money or both. Jules is invited to donate her eggs and, knowing she'll potentially be able to help her father with the money, it's hard to refuse such an offer. Annie can also make money to help her family during tight economic times, by becoming a surrogate. India wants a baby to complete the loving marriage she has with Marcus, and she also knows she could benefit from his wealth. Bettina thinks India is out to rob her father blind and wants to put a stop to it. When tragedy strikes, these four women become connected in ways they never thought possible.

Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Weiner and her assistant, Meghan Burnett, we had the opportunity to read and review this novel before it even hit the shelves.

Melissa A:
I love Jennifer Weiner's novels and this one was no exception. I wasn't sure where it was going at first, but then it picked up momentum and I was completely drawn into the lives of these four women. Ms. Weiner has a way of making me forget that I'm reading a novel, as I become so involved in the world she creates with her characters. They are so vivid that I can see them right in front of me and take on their emotions for them. I really liked the realistic dialogue and the descriptiveness. It is what made this novel strong. I also enjoyed seeing a cameo appearance from one of her past characters, although I was hoping initially that she would get her own story too. Thankfully, there were no real spoilers regarding the book from which this character was originated. (So if you read this one first, you won't have to worry that the other book was ruined for you at all.) Ms. Weiner handled some risky topics gracefully, making them comfortable for anyone who would normally not be comfortable with such topics. (I don't want to spoil anything though.)

However, having too many characters in the first person threw me off at times. I felt this way with "The D Word" by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke as well (see my review) and that was just two characters back to back (for the most part). This didn't seem to be as frustrating for me when I read "Little Earthquakes," so I was surprised that I had trouble with it this time around. My one suggestion would be to do what Jodi Picoult does and give each character their own font. That seems to help when I read her books. I also felt that it was a bit rushed towards the end. Since each lead character was featured every fourth chapter, they didn't get as much face time as they would if the focus were on one or two lead characters. So there was almost a race to the finish to get their stories told by the time she was ready to reach an epilogue. I would have loved to see her go on longer and give them time to flourish a bit more. Perhaps she can bring one or two of them back in a future novel.

Overall, this is another winner from a writer of amazing stories. It shows a maturation of Ms. Weiner's writing and storytelling capabilities (in the same vein as Jane Green, who started with dating stories and now discusses motherhood). I can tell she puts a lot of love into her novels and this one is bursting at the seams with such love.

Melissa P:
When I first learned about “Then Came You”, I knew it was a must-read, because in my opinion all of Jen’s books are, but I was honestly surprised by how much this book gripped me from the beginning. When the book hit my doorstep late one Tuesday afternoon, I was elated. I immediately curled up in my favorite chair and started reading. I couldn’t put it down and finished it by early Thursday morning. The stories of the four women pulled me in.

All four women are in different stages of their lives, but they are all relatable. I personally related to India the most because there were some similarities in our situations, but I don’t think I am like her at all. The characters all had their own struggles that they were going through, but I love that Jen made them all headstrong, capable women who are able to navigate their way through heartache and loss.

This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a while and I definitely think that it is Jennifer Weiner’s best book to date. It’s rare that I would finish a book so quickly and become so entranced by a story, but “Then Came You” is one of those rare books. I was happy when the characters were happy and I sobbed when the characters faced heartbreak. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after reading it. If anyone is looking for an amazing read, this is it.

Thanks again to Jennifer Weiner and her lovely assistant, Meghan!

Jen's "Making Whoopie Book Tour" starts today. See if she's coming to a bookstore near you, and if so, go meet her (and get some whoopie pies)! She's an amazing and hilarious speaker! We've both seen her on some of her book tours in the past. (Here is Melissa A's post about last year's tour stop in DC.)

More by Jennifer Weiner:


Heather said...

I just won a signed copy of this book on Jennifer's facebook page! I am soooo excited to get it and read it! Love all of her books!!

The Book Chick said...

I have a copy of this one on hold from my library, and am hoping that it will be in sooner rather than later! Wonderful reviews, ladies, thanks!

Dee DeTarsio said...

Thanks for the reviews--I've read everything she has written and I can't wait to read Then Came You--Jennifer Weiner is the goddess of Chick Lit!!

Ann Summerville said...

I gave you a shout out on my blog today. Thanks again for the giveaway.

Literary Marie said...

I recently read and reviewed THEN CAME YOU on my blog as well. I agree it was very good and Weiner's best book to date.