Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#BookReview: Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Synopsis: Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.

Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution….

Review: It's so disappointing when a book has the potential to be good and miserably fails.  While Lancaster seems to hit it out of the park when she writes about her own life, such as in Bitter is the New Black, she doesn't quit do as well with fiction.  I didn't care for her first attempt at fiction with If You Were Here, but I absolutely loved last year's Here I Go Again, though I suspect that a great deal of my love of that book is rooted in the fact that it's set in the 80s and I'm an 80s kinda girl.

At any rate, Lancaster's characters have become predictable.  Much like her real life persona, her protagonists are frequently mean girls with extremely healthy doses of self-esteem that make them unbearable to be around.  In this instance, it's Reagan Bishop, a therapist who has managed to find herself on TV in an Oprah-like reality show where she helps people who need a push to overcome their fears.  From the beginning Reagan tells the reader about how great she is and how much better she is than everyone on the show, everyone in her family and, basically, everyone in her life.

So as you continue to read (or listen, in my case), you wonder when is Lancaster actually going to get to something that refers to the title of the book.  A large chunk of the book focuses solely on Reagan and her work issues.  And while Reagan complains about her sisters here and there, we don't actually meet either one of them until halfway through the book and she doesn't truly interact with them until we're about 225 pages (75%) in. What is Lancaster doing with the rest of the book?  Just making Reagan unlikeable enough that readers don't even care what her issues are with her sisters, because they definitely sound like much nicer people than her.  Personally, I stuck around for as long as I did trying to figure out if Deva, a new age guru, is the same Deva from Here I Go Again (she is) and was mad that it took Lancaster until the last 10 pages of the book to confirm that.

If you've read one Jen Lancaster memoir, then you can and should skip Twisted Sisters.  It's completely without direction and meanders aimlessly until someone, perhaps the publisher, puts her back on track.  Unfortunately, by the time that happens, you will probably have lost interest.

Note: I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads because they have no way of giving 2.5 stars.  Upon further thought, it didn't even deserve that half star I was giving it.

Listening time: 8 hours, 34 minutes
Published: February 2013

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