Citizen Reading: 9 January 2017
Citizen Reading: 16 January 2016.

I just can't relate to Jennifer Weiner.

So why I read her entire memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, I really couldn't tell you. I think part of me puts Jennifer Weiner in the category of Jen Lancaster; I can't quite believe they're as hugely popular as they are. I read her early novel Good in Bed, and I can't remember strongly liking or disliking it. I read the whole thing, I know that, but I don't think I ever searched out any more of her fiction.

Hungry heartSo here's how this memoir/essay collection opens:

"The other day, I was walking from the hair salon to pick up my eight-year-old after school. It was a beautiful February afternoon, unseasonably sunny and springlike, with a sweet breeze rummaging in the tree branches that were just starting to bud.

Also, my hair looked spectacular.

I was feeling really good. I'd put in a solid morning writing; then I'd done a spinning class, where, according to the computerized rankings that I obsessively checked, I hadn't finished last. I was wearing my favorite jeans, which are dark-rinsed, straight-legged, stretchy and forgiving, and the Eileen Fisher cashmere sweater that I'd snagged for 70 percent off at the cash-only sale. With my UGG boots on my feet and my purse, with its furry purse-charm, slung over my shoulder, I strode confidently down Lombard Street, feeling like I was on top of things, like this was a day when I had it all figured out.

And then I fell." (p. 1.)

So then she whimpered a bit, got up, collected her daughter, and called for an Uber ride, and this is how she concludes:

"...and I realized that this was not just a trip, not just a stumble; it was a metaphor for my life, maybe for every woman's life.

You fall, you get hurt, you get up again." (p. 2.)

I don't know. It just doesn't do anything for me. From the spectacular hair to the excessive amount of detail about brand names to the somewhat basic conclusion about getting hurt and getting up again, there's nothing here to which I can relate. I also found it interesting that Weiner clearly struggled with body image issues for years, had a somewhat rough family situation (her father left the family--and all their bills--and struggled with his own demons), and struggled through her share of relationship problems, including a divorce, and this is what she comes up with as her big takeaway? You fall, you get up? I don't know. I was hoping for something less...formulaic.

But it's not a terribly written collection of essays. I'm not going to say I hated it; I just couldn't relate to it.*

*Evidently I'm feeling kinder and gentler in 2017.