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Book Review | Five Things I Can’t Live Without by Holly Shumas

December 30, 2008

fivethingsicantlivewithoutjpgFive Things I Can’t Live Without
Web site for Holly Shumas
5 Spot, July ’07
288 pages
Women’s fiction, chick lit (as classified by the author)
Book provided by Hachette Book Group, USA
Book #124/08

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From Amazon: Nora, a non-committal 29-year-old suffering from ho-hum career and relationship angst, is the star of Shumas’s rocky debut. In short order, Nora impulsively quits her job at a San Francisco animal shelter, moves in-perhaps prematurely-with boyfriend Dan (she didn’t really like her roommate all that much, anyway) and ends up ghostwriting bios for Internet daters. She’s also deeply involved in her “meta-life,” in which she constantly (and, on many occasions, annoyingly) analyzes the way she feels about how she’s feeling about what she’s doing. Nora begins to learn from her clients, but her nagging uncertainty about figuring what she wants threatens to sabotage her relationship. It takes her a while, and the process isn’t always riveting reading, but Nora gets herself sorted out. To her credit, Shumas extracts from Nora’s self-involvement a handful of funny moments.

Amazon rating: 9 reviews/4.5 stars
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Me: I wanted and was hoping for a light hearted, fun chick lit book. The author herself describes her book as ‘chick lit’, a ‘beach read’. That’s not what I got. If I’d read the above the piece from Amazon before receiving this book I wouldn’t have read it. I even missed the handful of funny moments that Amazon mentions. She (Nora) spends way too much time inside her own head. She picks her life to itty, bitty pieces. She picks apart her friends, her family, her relationships. Might be why she’s so good as writing those Internet dating snippets. I even found Nora’s ex-roommate Fara and Nora’s friend Larrisa annoying. Now Dan I liked. I really wanted to save Dan from Nora and her self-destrcutive life.

I actually feel that Ms. Shumas’ career as a practicing marriage and family therapist hinders this book. Instead of  Nora’s self-analysis having a bit of a lighter, humorous side she’s so damn serious and heavy-handed that I just wanted to slap her silly and say ‘get over yourself’.

This is a genre I have mixed feelings about any way. I usually find I either really like a book or dislike a book. I can’t seem to find a middle ground with chick lit. I’ll keep reading until I satisfy myself.

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