Being a mom of two boys and a girl and living in suburbia, I could instantly relate to Ellen Ivers, the lead character of Something New by Janis Thomas. When I found out that Ellen was going to enter a blog contest, I was even more intrigued to read this novel. Before I knew it, I had breezed through over 300 pages, laughing and grinning the entire way.
Ellen spends her days getting her kids ready for school, performing her regular housewife duties and then chauffeuring them between lessons and sports. She fits in time for a daily run on the treadmill, as well. All she has to look forward to are her book club meetings. At 42, she is feeling burnt out. Then she meets Ben, her cousin's attractive male neighbor and also signs up for a blog contest. Soon, she's finding other ways to renew herself and put her needs ahead of her husband's and kids'. However, that comes with a price and she has to decide if she's willing to see her new image all the way through. Especially when Ben starts taking a fondness the "new" Ellen.
At first, I wasn't sure if I would want to read Something New. It seemed like just another book about another bored wife and mother who wants something outside of her home life. However, I was instantly drawn in by the easygoing writing style and snippets of humor throughout. I kept thinking "Hey, I do that!" or "I know what you mean." It was hard not to sympathize with Ellen. Personally, I've always tried to have something that is just mine because I feel that is SO important in both marriage and motherhood. So I was rooting for Ellen to do the same. It was fun watching her make her little transformations. I also loved reading her blog posts. They inspired me to add more to my personal blog and speak more freely when I do post there. It's so therapeutic to write out our thoughts in that kind of forum. Ellen had the cover of anonymity, as well. I don't have that, but it makes me want to start an anonymous blog so I can be as candid and snarky as I want! I also loved the steamy scenes in the novel. I was reading one during lunch while at work and blushing big time. I had to laugh to pretend I found something funny instead. (It wasn't a problem, since a lot of the book was funny anyway.)
Something New left me with some concerns though. While I know it is fiction, Janis Thomas took some liberties to keep it at that realm. There was a point where the realistic feel unraveled a bit. I don't want to say what happened as to not spoil the story though. However, I can say that if I got as many hits on my blog (either here or my personal one) in one year that Ellen got in one DAY, I'd be in seventh heaven! She just has a general blog that she starts for this contest, voicing the thoughts that other women are afraid to say out loud, but that somehow generates thousands of hits in a single day. We should all be so lucky! Aside from that, I didn't like how hard Ellen was on her husband. He was being an idiot sometimes, but she was just so brutal about it. I get that she's reinventing herself and taking a stand in her life, but she was so quick to get mad and hold grudges. I actually felt bad for her husband, regardless of the stupid things he said. Don't we all say stupid things to our significant others every now and then? Things we would love to take back? Finally, there was an abundance of swearing that I didn't always feel was necessary. I did find it amusing how her cousin would spell out swear words. I could see myself doing that, even though my older son can spell enough to understand what I'm saying.
Janis Thomas is a great new voice in chick lit and reminds me of Jane Porter in some ways. (And if you know my love for Jane Porter, that's HUGE.) I'm glad to hear that she has her second novel coming out in July, 2013. (And there's a cute shoe on the cover of that one, as well.)
Thanks to Penguin for the book in exchange for an honest review. We're doing a giveaway along with Janis' interview. (US only.)
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