Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bitter is the New Black - Jen Lancaster

Summary: This is the story of a how a haughty former sorority girl went from having a household income of almost a quarter-million dollars to being evicted from a ghetto apartment...

It's a modern Greek tragedy, as defined by Roger Dunkle in The Classical Origins of Western Culture: a story in which "the central character, called a tragic protagonist or hero, suffers some serious misfortune which is not accidental and therefore meaningless, but ais significant in that the misfortune is logically connected."

In other words. [She]..had it coming. (Summary from back of book - Image from

My review: I went into this book with fairly high expectations. Quite a few people, including the illustrious Kari, have really enjoyed it and so I figured I was probably in for a good time. At the end of the first chapter I thought they were all completely nuts – stark raving lunatics who’d lost all good-reading sense. I hated Jen. HATED her. She was a self-centered, profane, vapid little debutante who I’m fairly certain I would loathe if, in fact, we had the pleasure of meeting in real life (and I think the feeling would probably be mutual). The only thing that kept me reading was that I was actually kind of looking forward to the Greek-tragedy-demise she had promised was in her future. Jen was right. She totally had it coming and I was going to revel in it.

No one was more surprised than me when, after a few chapters, Jen actually began to grow on me. I started to notice things—beyond her outward shallowness and mixed up priorities—like her work ethic, basic integrity, and dedicated commitment to her longstanding boyfriend, Fletch (whom I love). It was bizarre. How could this girl that seemed so unbelievably superficial actually have me caring what happened to her, rooting for her to succeed, and raging over the many injustices she suffers? I’m still not entirely certain that I know the answer to that one, but I think it had something to do with watching Jen’s oh-so gradual transformation from society snob to real-life girl. She retained all of her sarcasm and wit, but lost a lot of the snotty fashionista that was so aggravating, and I connect with her character more than I expected (or would care to admit).

Jen says what 90% of the world probably thinks but politely keeps to themselves. She has no filter whatsoever, and isn’t afraid to get in someone’s face or tell them her opinion, which leads me to my next point and a discussion of what, for me, were the more negative aspects of the book. Jen is every bit the crass, sarcastic, foul-mouthed little spitfire that she proclaims to be. She is not exaggerating. If swearing bothers you, you will not like this book from page one. Also, she used footnotes that I felt were unnecessary and distracting. I kept forgetting they were there until I’d already read the entire page and then had to re-read it to find out where her little offside remarks fit in to the story. Finally, Jen states at the beginning of the book that she had "taken a few liberties for the purpose of moving the story forward." This left me questioning the book's veracity. While Jen guarantees that she was "that bad," the fact that she took any liberties at all within the story made me wonder, at random moments, if all certain things really did happen to the extent that she described.

Overall, this book was not the be all, end all of funny chick lit for me but I did chuckle, snort (shut up), and all out laugh at many of Jen’s misadventures and misfortunes (can you say Adult Entertainment Expo?). While I enjoyed the read, I likely will not be keeping the book and will only be recommending it to those friends I know won’t be bothered by Jen’s creative use of language.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sum it up: Like watching America's Funniest Home videos. You know something bad is going to happen and you can't help but wait for it, watch, and then laugh when it does. And then you feel a little bad about laughing.


Kari said...

I reacted the same way to her. In the beginning she's pretty awful. By the end, you're rooting for her.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

She's like the evil twin I sometimes wish I had!


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