Why I Read It:
Let me preface this by saying that I did not read this book completely willingly. I have a fourth year English class called Theory and Criticism and my teacher wanted us to take theory and criticism and apply it to popular fiction, so at the beginning of last semester she gave the class a list of 3-4 best seller lists and the class voted on a book. This particular book was on a UK best seller list, which is unfortunate because 98% of my class is female. Now, I do also want to say that I have *nothing* against chick-lit. It's not MY cup of tea, but I don't judge people that read it, nor do I think it's all trashy. However, the synopsis of this book still just did not sound appealing to me. It also doesn't help that this is a celebrity-penned ghost-written novel, which I'm sorry, are really ever any good. Anyway, all this to say, I was not expecting to like this book and I was not at all surprised when I didn't.
Oh, and spoilers ahoy by the way.
All right, let's get the really obvious out of the way: this is not a well written book. Actually, I would go so far as to argue that this is potentially the WORST written novel I've ever read. An example of this is how people's physical appearance is described: instead of describing physical features, people are at times described by being compared to celebrities. For example, Jay, Sapphire's boy-toy/boyfriend and central character, is described as looking like an actor from the tv show Prison Break, which is puzzling, because it's later revealed that Jay is mulatto and the aforementioned actor is NOT. This is just one example, but there are many other instances of lazy writing.
The novel has a plethora of other problems. As you can probably tell from the summary, this is a book that pitches itself as feminist (the "I don't need a man!" attitude and "I don't believe in marriage!" attitude of Sapphire is the most predominant examples of this) but in the end, this book is not feminist in so many ways. For one, the novel still ends in Sapphire getting married, when prior to that, her life goes to shit when she temporarily breaks up with Jay. Yay for female empowerment!
Not to mention that only the women who are beautiful (like Sapphire) are happy and successful, whereas people like Sapphire's friend Sam, who's described as overweight and average-looking, is always living a life unfulfilled (until she loses a bunch of weight; then she's drop-dead gorgeous and gets a man who is rich and loves her, obviously -- she also becomes a huge bitch.)
There was also an instance in the book that REALLY bothered me. Sapphire runs a business where she organizes hen weekends (basically they're weekend-long bachelorette parties) and in the novel, she organizes one such hen weekend for a C-list soap-opera celebrity who is in a ton of magazines, so Sapphire wants to use her to promote business. However, said celebrity (who's name is Georgia) is upset when Sapphire's male stripper calls in sick. Because Sapphire is a dumbass, she calls her boyfriend Jay to come do the strip-tease instead! Brilliant. However, the ladies get out of control and literally try to RAPE Jay (Georgia tries to give him a blow-job clearly against his will, which qualifies as attempted rape to me). The novel alarmingly skims over this event. Yes, Jay is upset, but when Sapphire later faces him about it he says that the incident reminded him of when he was picked on in school for being half-black. WHY the novel wanted to defer this event to something else completely baffles me, and in the end is inconsiderate to BOTH issues (attempted rape and racism). Whenever the novel has a chance to be some kind of commentary on anything, it always defers the subject and I couldn't understand WHY. Also, there's a point later on in the novel when someone tries to rape Sapphire and it is a HUGE deal (for good reason -- it's frikken rape!), so why is it less of a big deal when it's a man who's almost raped?
During our discussion of his book in class, I got into a bit of a tiff with someone because she thought I was being too harsh on the book. "But this isn't a book you're supposed to think too hard about!! It's just supposed to be fun and that doesn't make it a bad book!!" To which I replied that, no, just because a book is light-hearted and fluffy does not make it bad. BUT, this book was riddled with so many problems that I couldn't enjoy it. The writing was terrible, and there were so many problems on an ideological level that this book made me ANGRY. And not because I was thinking about it too much; the problems were so glaring and in my face that I couldn't have ignored them even if I tried.Final Verdict:
Unsurprisingly, this was NOT the book for me. The writing was terrible and the book was riddled with so many problems besides: it poses as a feminist text when in many ways it's the opposite, whenever it touches on ANY kinds of issues (racism and rape, for example) the novel almost always defers them or doesn't really touch upon it in a satisfying way. I got some slack from my classmates (though I do want to point out that many others agreed with me) that I took the novel too seriously and that I should've just enjoyed the ride; I would've if I could've, but there's a difference between "light, fluffy and fun" to outright BAD and this novel definitely fell in the latter category.