If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
If you love HGTV and chick lit, you may want to check out this book. It has all that same kind of good stuff, plus it’s got smart-aleck footnotes. (I’m a sucker for footnoted novels.)
But—While this book was comical, it also activated my latent home improvement anxiety disorder. Yes, other people get all giddy about painting a room a new color; I get hives. (Thus, my quasi-addictive watching of the always-a-happy-ending HGTV shows. You know it’s going to turn out well. Plus: It’s not on my turf.)
In the book, Mia and Mac buy a fixer-upper in a ritzy suburb solely because she’s obsessed with its having been the house where the final scene of Sixteen Candles was filmed.
Of course, since this is a book that requires a plot, the renovation is nothing but a big old disaster from start to finish. Yeah, the plot is kinda obvious—yet the ways the house fell apart were surprisingly surprising. (All those falling toilets!)
The best part is the writing, which is pretty clever—and the tone is nice and easy. (I find that I can read a Jen Lancaster novel, even though I’m not drawn in by her nonfiction work.)
And Mia’s sidekicks are entertaining, so that’s all good.
And some moments are truly funny. I really liked this conversation, in which Mia is telling her friend Tracey about the strains of home improvement: “‘Our nerves are shot and we’re both overreacting to everything. Like last night, when we tried to mount a cabinet? I thought we were going to spontaneously burst into divorce.’” (p. 238)
The thing is, though, that I get all jittery when things go bad with homeownership and home improvement. It makes me reeeeealy, reeeeealy nervous. (For example, Meghan Daum’s Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House made me a bit queasy. All that longing for the ideal house. The Ideal House, which Does Not Really Exist.)
Clearly, I’ve got some issues going on here.
And yet… I read on.