The Next Best Thing

by Jennifer Weiner

Book, 2013



Call number




New York, NY Washington Square Press 2013


Believing she is realizing her dreams when her sitcom is bought, television writer Ruth Saunders finds her happiness threatened by demanding actors and executives as well as an unrequited crush on her boss and her septuagenarian grandmother's upcoming wedding.

User reviews

LibraryThing member tammydotts
Fans of Jennifer Weiner won’t be disappointed by her new book, The Next Best Thing. And the book won’t disappoint readers intrigued by seeing Weiner’s name on bestseller lists or her other books displayed as staff picks at their local bookstores.

The story follows Ruthie Saunders as she brings
Show More
her idea for a sitcom focusing on a young woman and her grandmother to life. The sitcom loosely follows Ruthie’s own story: a young woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated world while living with her grandmother. In real life, Ruthie was raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death. The two moved to Los Angeles so Ruthie could pursue her dream of writing for television.

The Next Best Thing tracks her journey from assistant to showrunner, offering readers glimpses behind the Hollywood curtain as Ruthie decides how much she’s willing to compromise with the network to get her show on the air. Along the way, Ruthie’s relationship with her grandmother continues to evolve.

Weiner has a gift for creating vibrant characters; even minor characters are fully fleshed out on the page. The small details she invests in her characters end up making them seem like people you may know, or, in the case of The Next Best Thing, people you’ve read about in tabloid headlines.

The book’s release date couldn’t be better timed. The Next Best Thing is just right for taking to the beach or poolside. The plot moves quickly and keeps readers interested all the way through. Weiner deftly avoids making the book a vapid read – one of those summer books meant to be forgotten once it’s read and left behind at the shore house. Instead, she delivers a story with characters facing real decisions and who, at times, make real mistakes. Ruthie isn’t perfect, and that’s one of the reasons readers will come to love her and hope that Weiner revisits this slice of her universe in future books.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ethel55
Writer Ruth Saunders moved to LA in the hopes of making it big. After working as an assistant on a couple sit-coms, her idea for a new show is picked up by a network and suddenly, she's in charge. The ins and outs of Hollywood machinations are nicely woven into the story, I'm sure Jennifer Weiner's
Show More
stint in LA, working on a sitcom, was a great springboard for many of the 'ins' alluded to in the story. Ruth's your average, twenty-something Weiner heroine. She likes to swim, has personal obstacles to overcome and has a healthy amount of very snarky comments. Ruth's grandma, who has raised her since she was three, is a great secondary character, along with her beau, Maurice.
Show Less
LibraryThing member traciragas
I loved Jennifer Weiner's previous books so I was excited to see a new release! Ruthie was probably one of her best characters. A very real woman, living in a scary place like Los Angeles. Rutie was able to succeed despite many setbacks and roadblocks placed before her. This was a fast and
Show More
enjoyable read and I liked that Ruthie and the other main characters were seemingly every day people despite where they lived and despite their industry.

This was a great story, the characters were deep and well defined. Like a previous review mentions, minor characters are also fully portrayed, enough that you get a really great picture of what they would "look like". Great, fun and touching read!
Show Less
LibraryThing member LauraMoore
Audiobook Review:

I grew up reading Jennifer Weiners' novels and I think i've read almost all of her books that are published, listening to the audiobook of her story was a different experience but one that I really enjoyed!! I loved the narrator and found her voice to match the story perfectly.It
Show More
felt like it added to the story instead of taking away from it, which sometimes is a concern with audiobooks.

This book had everything you could watch from a contemporary fiction novel. It had drama, romance, and ups and downs along the way. I loved Ruth Saunders' character and felt that the relationship between her and her grandmother was real and relatible to anyone who was/is close with their grandmother. You really felt for Ruth's character after all she's been through, she still is a strong and confident woman, and that to me is a message in and of itself.

I loved the Hollywood life that she lived and the behind the scenes action of television and production. Onto the romance although Ruth had her share of up's and down's and mostly down's in the romance department Ruth's relationship with her boss was sp swoon-worthy!! I felt like it wasn't predictable and I liked the dynamic and imperfections of their relationship.

If you're a fan of Jennifer Weiner or just like contemporary fiction then you need to get this book on your radar. I don't think i've ever read a Jennifer Weiner book that I didn't enjoy, but this was a nice fill of her work, after not reading/listening to anything of hers in a quite a while.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

It was just a fun read that made me cry at times
Fabulous secondary characters
Ruth is just a funny likeable realistic women -- sort of a combination of Tina Fey/Mindy Kaling
Learned a lot about working on a sitcom
fun snappy dialogue and nice sweet conversations
Love the
Show More
relationship between Ruth and her grandma - in fact I would love to read a whole book about Ruth
The two Dave's are awesome - I also have a literary crush on little Dave who has the same Han Solo/Carbonite ice cube tray as me (sorta reminds me of another one of my crushes'&)
I will be lending this one out a lot as I just really enjoyed it, having a hard time telling you why, I just did. Just one of those perfect books to lose yourself in
Will say this one will definitely be made into a movie
Had me remembering and wanting to re-watch The Golden Girls
Got a kick of all the mentions about social media
The scenes between the writers meeting were tons of fun

The Not So Good Stuff

story doesn't flow neatly - it goes back and forth a little which made me feel a little disjointed at times
Ruth makes some stupid decisions that make me want to smack her -- it does work for the story though
Jake's friends think I'm weird since I had tears rolling down my face while I was reading (They are 10 - they think all old people are weird anyways)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I opened the notebook and wrote, I will never be beautiful. Then I shut my eyes, turned my face toward the wall, and pretended I'd fallen asleep. That was the only night I ever saw my grandmother cry. She picked up the notebook, read what I'd written, closed it slowly, and turned toward the window. I saw her reflection in the glass, saw her shoulders hitching up and down, saw tears shining on her cheeks as she whispered, fiercely, over and over, Not fair, not fair, not fair."

"Mazel tov," said Maya. Maya wasn't Jewish - at least, not as far as I knew-but in Hollywood almost everyone ended up what the Daves called Tribe by Osmosis, comfortable dropping the occasional phrase in Yiddish, and knowing better that to set lunch meetings on Yom Kippur or send a muffin basket during Passover."

"I remember," Dave continued, "one of my philosophy professors once said that "Why do we suffer? is the question that's driven every religion that's ever lasted,"
"So what's the answer?" I asked. "Why do we suffer? What does it mean? What is it for?"

Dave thought for a moment, his eyes on the ceiling, fingers drumming on the comforter. " I don't remember," he said. "I think I dropped the class." He shook his head at the memory of his college-age self. "I only signed up in the first place because I thought I was in live with this girl, and she was a philosophy major."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

If you have read Jennifer's other books, you obviously will enjoy this on
Fans of the so-called (and not always in a good way unfortunately) chick lit -- this is fabulous for you (and Chick Lit isn't bad so piss off all you haters)

4.5 Dewey's

I won this on Twitter from YMCBookalicious - thanks Wanda it was just what I needed
Show Less
LibraryThing member Randall.Hansen
I haven't read any of Jennifer Weiner book, so I can only speak to The Next Best Thing... but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fun read, well-written while being both funny and poignant. I'm a bit of a television junkie, so this inside look of an outsider who goes to
Show More
Hollywood to make it big as a writer for television was the perfect set-up for me. But besides the inside look at Hollywood and the compromises show creators have to make to the network hunchos, it's also a wonderful story of life, of love -- love between a granddaughter and the grandmother who raised her and the story of love for a woman who thought she may never see it. For a guy, also an interesting inside look at a major -- and flawed -- female character actually written by a female writer. This book will definitely have me checking out her other 9 books!
Show Less
LibraryThing member sskinsey
Not as good as her other books.
LibraryThing member Cats57
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
*ARC Supplied by Publisher*

This is the story of Ruth Saunders. She lost her parents in a horrible accident that left her scarred and somewhat deformed. Throughout most of her childhood, Ruth has suffered with her multiple reconstructive surgeries, which could
Show More
only do so much for her looks. Ruth of course has a major problem (as well as most people who see her) to see beyond her scars. She has now grown up and is living her dream of writing a screenplay and having it picked up by a network. Now she is the “showrunner” which is as far as I’m concerned a wonderfully thankless position!

How her script is adapted for TV, how the script is basterdized, the actors being petty, what goes on in a studio; all the problems that go on behind the scenes, is what takes up the bulk of this book. The book has been divided into thirds and I really found the first third to be a fascinating look into the personal life of Ruth as she grows from a pained and broken child into a wonderful, caring woman. The second third of this book is just excessively technical--- lacking personal interactions and concentrating on business and business relationships. In this section as, well as part of the third. Ruth can come off as a spineless woman almost afraid to say boo. And I can understand this somewhat---after all she is afraid to rock the boat – but this is her dream and I feel that people shouldn’t compromise for their dreams’.

The third section of the book starts Ruths redemption, as the screenplay has finally made it to the screen, to audiences etc and Ruth is forced to acknowledge that this is not her project anymore. In this section, we will also find Ruth making a very huge relationship mistake.

But never fear, this is a Jennifer Weiner novel and all will be made clear in the final pages asthis book finally all comes together and a ‘happily ever-after’ both for her show and for her love, is achieved.
Show Less
LibraryThing member amandacb
I think The Next Best Thing is a fun, fluffy, bedside-table, summer read. It is not a "In Her Shoes" type of book, meaning it doesn't reach the depths of character involvement that that book does, but it achieves its goal -- entertainment.
LibraryThing member miyurose
I had mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand, I really wanted to like Ruth. I related to her close relationship with her grandmother (I spent at least 25% of my time living with my great-grandmother until I graduated high school), and I sympathized with the difficulties her disfigurement caused
Show More
her (because we all know a Jennifer Weiner protagonist has to be “damaged” in some way). But that was pretty much it. I didn’t love her, and I feel like I only rooted for her because the author told me to.

The book has its good points. The peek inside the world of sitcom production was enlightening (if at all accurate), and I enjoyed Ruth’s attempts at managing her cast. I also really liked the Two Daves, if you remove the parts of that storyline that were wrapped up a little too conveniently (*cough* Dave’s girlfriend *cough*). But there was entirely too much foreshadowing in the construction of the story. I wish it had been told more linearly, so I could be surprised when disaster came, rather than reading the equivalent of “so, that didn’t exactly work out, here’s what happened”.

Was it a triumphant ending? Eh, yes and no. Overall, the book was good enough, but not great. Kinda like Ruth’s sitcom.
Show Less
LibraryThing member annie.michelle
This book touched me in many ways…the bond between grandmother & granddaughter, heading out west for a new adventure. That it is set in the snarling hills of Hollywood only adds to the fun.
Ruthie finds herself at 23 wanting more out of life. When she was very young her and her parents were in a
Show More
terrible car crash, she survived but with disfiguring scars on her face and her heart. Her beloved Grandmother has always been there for her so the two of them decide to head to Hollywood and see if Ruthie’s love of the written word can make them rich. Six years later she gets a sitcom and what follows is a romp through the silly, selfish and so very shallow world of actors, producers, directors and rewrites. Ruthie finds love, heartbreak and grandma finds another husband and through it all they never lose each other. A fun, tender & very real look inside the not so very real Hollywood
I have enjoyed all Jennifer’s books and I resent them being called “chick Lit’” as a derogatory term. Do we call books on sports or cars “dude lit?”…. just saying
Show Less
LibraryThing member ShavonJones
And entertaining look at a young writer breaking into hollywood and falling in love. I like workplace dramas. I liked the conversational style of writing. I especially enjoyed the suspense between Ruthie and Little Dave and found myself a little disturbed as the plot developed. That's a good thing.
Show More
I think a good story makes the reader a little uneasy. Will she get it right or make the same mistake again? I guess you'll have to read it yourself to find out.
Show Less
LibraryThing member chickey1981
The Next Best Thing has been on my to read list for a while. It's not a young adult novel, so I haven't had a chance to pick it up. It's been panned in reader reviews since then, and I decided on a rare whim not to listen to those reviews and see for myself.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner is
Show More
about Ruth, a young woman who has been disfigured in a terrible accident, and who has dreams to become a writer for a TV show. She has been orphaned by the accident, and lives with her colorful grandmother. The rest of the plot is wrapped around her body image difficulties, the craziness of trying to get a show to air (and not get cancelled), and the compromises one has to go through to get your story to be told.

After I saw the low ratings of this book, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I don't know much about the behind the scenes of any show, and it was fascinating for me to learn about it. I learned later that some of this was autobiographical and that totally makes sense to me, because the authenticity of the book jumps from the pages. I also loved the characters-- particularly, her grandmother, the two Daves, who are her staunch mentors in this business, and some of the cast that she auditions. Weiner definitely has a way with words. The ending for me, was perfect-- I couldn't imagine it ending any other way.

That said, in entirety, this isn't a perfect book. My biggest beef with the book is Ruth herself. She really skates on the edge of being annoying with saying how ugly she is and how no one is ever going to love her because of her disfigurement, etc. I feel like this could be scaled back a bit, because we already get that she has these insecurities. I also thought that some of the two dimensional characters could have been fleshed out more-- like the air headed star of the show, Cady. We never get to see a good side of her. It's fun to hate the pretty, but they aren't all awful. Because of this, the plot seemed heavy handed in places: pretty equals bad, and disfigured or ugly equals good, rather than one can still be happy, successful and lead a meaningful life even if their outsides are not the norm.

That said, Weiner is a talented writer, and I'll definitely be picking up some of her other books.
Show Less
LibraryThing member matamgirl
I wanted to like this more than I did. I could really not muster up anything more than meh.
LibraryThing member angieshere
I loved the beginning and it seemed so promising at first. About halfway through it just didn't seem real enough. Loved the grandmother...
LibraryThing member angieshere
I loved the beginning and it seemed so promising at first. About halfway through it just didn't seem real enough. Loved the grandmother...
LibraryThing member as3v
A touching novel about hopes and expectations set in the world of Hollywood sitcoms.
LibraryThing member brangwinn
What can I say but my brain needed a rest from books where I really need to think! Weiner is my turn-to-author for beach reading (or in this case watch-the-autumn leaves falling book). It was a fun read about Hollywood and the friendship and love between a young woman and her grandma, with romance
Show More
thrown in.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sunnydrk
I always start off books by Ms. Weiner, skeptical, afraid that the books are seen as good because they are so popular. However, I have yet to be disappointed. Ms. Weiner tells a multi-faceted tale about Ruth and her grandmother. The story draws you in and left me unable to put the book down. I had
Show More
to force myself to go to sleep. As usual, her characters come to life and her dialogue is so real that I got butterflies and goose bumps.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JudithDCollins
"A sitcom showrunner finds the road to her first series launch much rockier than expected. When Ruth Saunders gets "the call" from the network telling her that her original series, The Next Best Thing, is a go, at first she is incredulous. Although she's served her time in a writers' room, she
Show More
never expected to sell her autobiographical concept about a young woman, Daphne, and her grandmother, Nanna Trudy, who move to Miami to seek their fortunes. Ruth moved to Hollywood with her grandmother, Rae, and they've both enjoyed success, Ruth as a comedy writer and Rae as an extra. Rae raised Ruth from toddlerhood after a car crash killed her parents and disfigured Ruth. (Even after multiple surgeries, one side of Ruth's face is badly scarred.) After Ruth is hired as an assistant to two writer-producers, Big Dave and Little Dave, they help her develop and pitch her own show.

I enjoyed the first part with the grandmother as humorous; however, as the book moves on, not a lot of substance and a let down from Weiner's previous books, which I have read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member NML_dc
I like her books. It's good like her other books.
LibraryThing member Penny_L
Such a fun read! The story follows Ruth from a childhood event that started her love of sitcoms, through her various jobs in the entertainment industry, to becoming the showrunner of her own sitcom. There are many laugh out loud moments as Ruth, along with her Grandmother, navigate the waters of
Show More
show business and life in general. A charming novel for any fan of the Golden Girls, or for anyone interested in the inner workings of Hollywood show production.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sunshine608
I initially wasn't all that interested in reading this book based on the synopsis but I picked it up anyway and I was hooked. I really enjoyed reading and learning a little bit more about the world of television writing. IT helps explain why some really great shows are cancelled and how a writers
Show More
vision changes once so many (greedy?) hands get in the pot. I really enjoyed Ruth and while she wasn't the most relatable character I've ever read, I did enjoy her character and her experiences. I wasn't heavily invested in the love story ( or the love scenes- I'm not a prude, they just went on and seemed rather long and isolated for the book).

A great summer read.

Show Less
LibraryThing member jbarr5
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
SBN: 9781451617757
Ruth Saunders survived the crash that killed both of her parents. After many surgeries to recnstruct her face while having her grandmother come back from FL to MA to take care of her. She's got so much money she does not have to work a day in
Show More
her life but after
school she sells her grandmother, Rachel on moving to CA with hopes of selling her script. They both love CA and fit right into what they want to do.
She's hooked up with other writers and agencies that keep her busy while not only working on her project but theirs.
She falls in and out of love and fantasizing about others.
Love how we get to see what really happens when a script is accepted, taking auditions and then meetings and finally the tapes and that's only for 3 shows. If those pass then onto maybe 13 more for the series.
The thing of who's got the most power comes into it.
Love reading how the houses and apartments are lavishly decorated, overlooking the ocean scenes.
Can believe what happens to the script over the months and due to the actors they get to play the parts, some of the script has to be rewritten. By the end it's almost not even the same script that the network agreed upon. hmmmm
Love the ending and I won't spoil it for others but this never happens to a script, glad it did here.
Love the love scenes, hot steamy sex.
Show Less



Similar in this library

Page: 0.3892 seconds