Monday, June 16, 2014

#BookReview: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

I don’t want to say Jennifer Weiner has lost her magic. Coming on the heels of reading her first book, Good in Bed, recently, it would seem that she’s hit a bit of a snag. The same long, meandering time line that bogged her down in her debut novel seems to make an appearance here as well. The biggest difference between Cannie Shapiro (Good in Bed) and her new heroine, Allison, is their choice of addiction. While Cannie was addicted to her story of abandonment and the pain she feels as a result of that, Allison is addicted to uppers, downers and everything in between.

Life in the city was good for Allison and husband, Dave. Not only was it good, it was manageable. Fast forward a few years and Dave’s newspaper job isn’t going well. Alison, however, is bringing in a very nice income as a blogger. When she’s not blogging, she’s taking care of their daughter, Ellie; dealing with her doting father who is beginning to show signs of dementia; and trying to help her mother, who has always been very distant. On top of everything else she’s dealing with, there’s a widening gap between Dave that she can’t seem to bridge.

All Falls Down follows Allison’s slow descent from an occasional painkiller user to a full blown addict. As Weiner points out, Allison is able to convince doctors to prescribe meds for her because she doesn’t look like what they would expect a drug user to look like. She’s a white, middle aged woman who lives in suburbia, though if you’ve ever watched Secret Lives of Stepford Wives, you know that doesn’t mean a thing.

I feel like I was supposed to feel sorry for Allison and I just didn’t. She did score points with me for being a fan of Trixie Belden mysteries, but otherwise, she was just someone that couldn’t deal with everyday issues that others handle daily without taking drugs to dull the pain. Her adventures in rehab made me dislike her even more as she tried to flaunt her privilege and belief that rehab is for people that look a certain way or live a certain life, but definitely not her. I hope Weiner didn’t mean for her to be a likable character because she just isn’t.

Although I’m sure she thought she was being clever, at one point Weiner describes the language of one of the counselor’s as “ghetto vernacular” and “colorful patois.” So one minute the counselor is speaking proper English and the next minute she’s slipped into “ghetto vernacular?” I get the feeling that Weiner recently discovered code switching, thought it would cute to throw in, but still doesn’t really understand how it works. As a result, her ignorance really shines through. My disgust at this, coupled with her long meandering story lines, is just about enough for me to walk away from her writing. While this was an okay read, it’s definitely not a page turner and if you skip it, you won’t miss much.

Published: June 2014
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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