Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Here I Go Again" (a novel) by Jen Lancaster

   I love, Love, LOVE Jen Lancaster! If I didn't already have the most fabulous bestie in the world (my Sparkle Sara, who turned me on to Jen's books in the first place), I would definitely be calling, emailing, Facebooking and otherwise cyber-stalking (except texting, I don't text, or tweet for that matter, I'm way too wordy for both of those) Jen to see if she had a bestie opening. I should be a shoo-in too because I've read all her memoirs -- "Bitter Is the New Black," Bright Lights, Big Ass," "Such a Pretty Fat," "Pretty in Plaid," "My Fair Lazy," and "Jeneration X" -- and love, love, loved them all! (Sorry to be so mushy gushy but trust me, one "love" just wouldn't be enough!) I even read her first go at a novel, "If You Were Here," and really liked it. (See, I can temper the love thang when it's called for.) Her Facebook page is one of my very few "likes" -- I will not be a slut with my "likes" just to get free stuff -- and I regularly check in with her website to see what craziness is going on with her, husband Fletch, and the ever-growing menagerie of dogs and cats that roam her home.
   And now here I go again, love, love, loving her newest novel "Here I Go Again" -- totes! (A word from the book that I finally figured out means "totally" and then proceeded to use liberally. Another thing I love about her books, plenty of free Jen-isms to spice up my vernacular!) If you are looking for a hootie summer read that is the perfect cocktail of wit, sass, and snarky, this is IT.
   Think back to high school and that one popular bitch-chick that you sort of hated because she had it all -- maybe a hot pink Beemer convertible, the head cheerleader spot and Prom Queen crown, fabulous hair and clothes that every other girl imitates, wanna-be boyfriends out the ying-yang, and a posse of devotees that hang on every malicious word and put-down she says -- and yet you sort of wanted to be her. This is Lissy Ryder, the star of Lyons Township High School Class of 1992 and this novel. Believe it or not, her life got even better after high school: a high-paying PR job, a great husband and condo, swanky clothes and club memberships. Then she lost it ALL. Facing her twenty-year high school reunion while living back with her parents, she figures she can get her life back on track by finagling new PR work from former classmates that have gone on to successful careers. She figured wrong. At the reunion, everyone hates Lissy and reminds her how she made their lives miserable. Even her bestie abandons her. All she's left with is a hippy-dippy former classmate offering hope in the form of a new-age elixor that will give her a sense of clarity, purpose, and inner peace. When Lissy isn't convinced the magic potion will cure the bitch of a sitch (another Jen-ism I'm stealing) she is in, her friend assures her it will also fix her hangover and complexion.  Of course then Lissy is onboard and down the hatch it goes.
   So begins Lissy's karmic adventure to fix her past in order to fix her present, while trying to fix her parents and friends along the way. While trying not to be a spoiler, I will mention there is some time travel involved in case you have issues with that sort of thing. I normally would. In this context, though, the method seems perfectly plausible; there's no McFly DeLorean in sight. And the hilarious romp that ensues from the time travel is totes worth suspending a bit of disbelief. Besides some of my fave fun parts -- Lissy's Southern Mamma (I can hear my Southern kin in everything she says!); the nostalgia of all the song lyrics and TV show references (however I do take offense at Jen's mention that "Mayim Bialik does not grow up to be cute. Like, at all." I adore Mayim as Amy Farrah Fowler on "Big Bang Theory," so please, do not diss the AFF!); the crazy auto-correct texting faux pas of Debbie turned Deva; and the didn't-see-that-coming ending -- "Here I Go Again" also has deeper undertones of what it means to be a friend, figuring out what you truly want versus what you "should" want, and the value of appreciating what you have before it's gone.
   From the daisy book liner that mimics Lissy's teenage bedroom wallpaper to the last lines -- "Whoa. Karma really is a bitch." -- this novel is a surprise-tinkle-from-laughing-too-hard page-turner that's better than a cold glass of Chardonnay on a hot summer night! Now if only my copy of her next book -- "The TAO of MARTHA (My Year of Living or Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog)" -- would come, I could keep right on laughing. Surprise tinkles be damned!


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