Friday, March 25, 2011

"The Next Best Thing" by Kristan Higgins

I got started on a Kristan Higgins reading marathon after finishing her book, "My One and Only".  So I cruised around Paperback Swap and requested a bunch of her titles that sounded interesting to me. 

Kristan's books are a bit different than my normal books that I choose to read because she writes in the first person.  It is actually kind of cool but it took me a little while to get used to it...

Okay, so "The Next Best Thing" is really a great book, BUT it made me sad throughout and I had a hard time finishing it because I was so sad!  The story is about a young widow named Lucy.  She comes from a family of young widows who all own a bakery together.  Her husband, at the time of the story, has been dead for over five and a half years.  When her younger sister (a completely neurotic mess who is afraid that her own husband will die young) has a baby, Lucy realized that she wants to try again - with marriage - but only with someone that she is not really in love with so that she will never be hurt again.

Enter Ethan.  Her dead husband's brother and her best friend.  With benefits.  Somewhere along the line, about two or three years after Jimmy's death, Lucy and Ethan because sex-buddies.  The book opens with her ending their affair because she wants to get married and have kids.  Ethan, for his part, takes the news well and we don't spend hardly ANY time in his head to know what he is feeling but it's written all over his face when Kristan puts him in a scene.

Lucy has a hard time moving on from being Jimmy's widow mainly because everyone around her is more comfortable with her in that role.  Her mother and aunt's are known as the Black Widows (their last name is Black - they haven't killed any of their husbands!) and Lucy fits in to their world and they are happy to remind her how none of them have ever wanted another husband.  

Then there are Lucy's in-laws (Ethan's parents) who seem to want her to stay frozen in time as Jimmy's wife.  They are a big Italian family but they (as is the case in most Italian families) seem to forget that they have a second son and when they do remember that he's alive, it is to remind him of how he is not Jimmy.  I didn't like these people at all!

In the end, Lucy has to decide if she is willing to risk being in another relationship and if she is willing to take that chance with Ethan.  I liked that as the story went on, we see that Jimmy is not some perfect person as we tend to make the deceased in to and that helps you, the reader, cheer Lucy on to find the right man for her.

Great story overall, but I have to admit, I really actually cringe at stories that use the ex-brother-in-law/or sister-in-law angle.  It just is not my thing.  This was a complex story that was told beautifully and is definitely worth a read.

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