I probably should have been arrested as I ran through Stepford additions in the St. Pete area of Florida last Thanksgiving.
I was huffing and a puffing through a 9-mile run (crazy that I can still remember that more than a year later), and the only thing saving me was not the Island Nectar Gu Roctane I had tried to take but the audiobook edition of "Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase." I was listening to Jen Lancaster (or whichever actress was paid to read it) talk about meeting Candice Bushnell an what an even it was, to meet someone who was so much of an icon. All I could think of was how Jen Lancaster was that idol to me, and I plotted ways to garner her attention and a meeting.
My social media efforts, lackluster at that, have been unsuccessful thus far but my love for her work is unwavering. And so it was with great enthusiasm that I applied for the "Here I Go Again" Blogher Book Club campaign.
"Here I Go Again" is the second novel from Jen Lancaster (most of her work is memoir/non-fiction).
Twenty years after ruling the halls of her suburban Chicago high school, Lissy Ryder doesn't understand why her glory days ended. Back then, she was worshipped ... beloved ... feared. Present day, not so much. She’s been pink-slipped from her high-paying job, dumped by her husband and kicked out of her condo. Now, at thirty-seven, she’s struggling to start a business out of her parents’ garage and sleeping under the hair-band posters in her old bedroom. Lissy finally realizes karma is the only bitch bigger than she was. Her present is miserable because of her past. But it’s not like she can go back in time and change who she was...or can she?"Back to the Future" meets every nerd's fantasy, readers see the exploits of Lissy Ryder blow up in her face and learn that what might seem like the best way to right a wrong doesn't always garner the greatest outcome. Not intended to be more than a beach read (I hope), Jen Lancaster manages to make what could be a predictable story of learning the meaning of life an engaging, funny tale full of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the 1980s.
Lancaster takes a big risk in asking readers to suspend disbelief - everything from time travel to a ditzy woman owning a mega PR firm to people staying friends after high school. Wait, maybe I'm the only unlucky one on that last part. Anyway, it could be a problem for some but I pushed the "huh?" thoughts aside to give myself the best chance at enjoying the story. And I did enjoy reading the story.
Where the book fell short for me was in its tone. Lancaster wrote it in her trademark voice - full of snark and sharp wit - the one I love so much. It became difficult, though, to separate Jen Lancaster the writer from Lissy the Ryder and I found that the tone became a bit tiresome and juvenile in "Here I Go Again."
Join the discussion on the Blogher Book Club page. If you are interested in following Jen Lancaster on social media she's on Twitter and Facebook. And, of course, you can also find her on blog, Jennsylvania.