Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Things I Wish I'd Known by Linda Green

GENRE: contemporary romance/drama/chick-lit

When Claire Cooper was 15 she’d swear on her Wham! album that: big hair and rah-rah skirts were here to stay; Spandau Ballet would never split up; she would marry her idol, heart-throb footballer Andy Pailes. Fast forward 20 years and things haven’t gone quite to plan. And when Claire discovers the ‘dream list’ she wrote as a teenager, she realises how far removed her life is from the one she’d imagined. Divorced, stuck in a dead-end job and dating an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer, she decides it’s time to put her life back on track. But what really happened between Claire and her teen idol all those years ago? And is meeting him again the way to make her dreams come true? Or a huge mistake?

I read this book because I wanted a fun read, and while this novel provided me with a fun read, it was not as carefree as it sounded in the description. It involves silly moments, but also some serious, real-life drama.

It all begins when Claire’s boyfriend, Mark, wants them to move in together. Suddenly, Claire is reluctant to do that and she remembers the list she wrote as a 15-year-teenage girl. She is disappointed that nothing has turned out the way she wanted it to at 15, so Claire enters into a sort of middle-age crisis, unable to let go of the past, and unable to accept the present and future, too. In the centre of her crisis is Andy Pailes, a footballer Claire was in love with when she was a teenager. Each chapter is divided into two parts: the first part begins with the present-day life of Claire, and the second part focused on Claire as a girl of 15.

I really loved the way the author handled the issue of teenage girls falling in love with a celebrity and obsessing about them. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been there. I, myself, actually also had a crush of a footballer when I was 15, just like Claire, and sometimes the resemblances between our teenage versions very eerie and made me laugh while reading the novel. However, Claire’s crush developed into something she probably never expected. I didn’t expect it either, so to me, that portion of the story was a great plot twist. The past was really well written. My only problem with the past was that sex was handled like an anatomy lesson. Now, I know that sex is part of life, but in literature, I prefer to have it toned down, not to read about everything in detail. So, that really bothered me. I think that if sex is too detailed in books, it demeans the story, in a way. But that’s just me, you might not feel the same way.

The present, however, lacked a certain lustre in my eyes. As much as Claire’s character was well defined in the past, she seemed to have lost all of her traits and become a generic person. I didn’t like that. Her best friend from teenage years, Frankie, was the best character, in my opinion. She had a really clearly-defined personality, even if it was a bit typical – you know, the female protagonist’s cliche-like best friend. I would have liked Claire’s boyfriend, Mark, to have a more defined personality because I really didn’t see myself “rooting” for him for the bigger part of the novel. I can’t really say much about him, only that he loves Claire, is a lawyer, has some insecurity issues and is generous. But that’s so generic, and I would have liked the characters to stand out more. So, the past was really intriguing to read about, but the present not so much. Also, Claire’s realisations and closure were a bit too sudden, which made them slightly unrealistic in my eyes. However, I’m glad she achieved something big in her life at last.

Still, I like the issue the author tried to present. Now that practically almost every teenage girl is obsessing over the Twilight saga and Robert Pattinson (that’s actually mentioned in the book, btw), it’s good to read about the possible explanations behind these celebrity crushes and how sometimes these things can turn out to be very dangerous and can, as in Claire’s case, even affect you for life. One has to remember that people fall in love with celebrities because we idolise them and they have no flaws because we don’t really know them, but in reality, they’re just like everybody else, flawed human beings that might disappoint you and let you down. Loving an idol is safe, but it’s better to love a real person.

All in all, this was a fun read, definitely, but I’d say I liked the book, not loved it. If you’re looking for a fun summer read, I recommend this novel.

THIS MISS RATES: / (3.5 stars)


Blodeuedd said...

I can sense the could be drama from that blurb, so not so carefree after all. Where are the totally carefree chick-lit books? Kind of miss them

Stephanie (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

Hi, I just awarded you The Versatile Blogger Award over at my blog, Books Are A Girl's Best Friend (www.bestfriends-books.blogspot.com)
To find out more and how to join in, check out the post on my blog about it.

Thanks and congratulations to you Irene!


Jan von Harz said...

Sound interesting. I love that she talked about Twilight and she deals with a current teen issue. Great review.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Great review; I think it's funny that the best friend is the most interesting because that seems to happen a lot. And it's always super disappointing when that happens. Still it sounds pretty good and I might like it.