By: Jen Lancaster
Happy Friday! If this is your first time joining us, we are a weekly book review link up. This is the place for people to go when they are searching for a new book or want to share one that they recently read. I'm collaborating with three other amazing Arizona bloggers: Anne at Under the Brella and JoAnn and Megan at Whimsicle, to bring you a full review of a different book every week.
This week I'm reviewing Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster.
This is the story of what happens when you bring a Prada bag into an unemployment office.
Jen Lancaster had it all - a chic penthouse in Chicago, a six figure salary, closets full of designer clothing and accessories, weekly manicures and pedicures, a great guy, and a snarky wit. But after getting laid off in the post September 11 recession, she suddenly finds herself in a whole new arena. She goes from daily shopping sprees to suddenly not having health insurance and moving into an apartment in the ghetto. From there it gets worse when her boyfriend (who becomes her husband during this time) loses his job, they lose their car, and they are almost evicted from their ghetto apartment and have to move back in with her parents. And yes, there is a point where she actually goes to the unemployment office while carrying a Prada handbag. Needless to say, the encounter does not go well.
The Jen in this book is egotistical and a mean person, there's no other way to say it. She spends the first half of the book being so horrible that you wouldn't want to have her as a friend or coworker. Yet she's absolutely hysterical and you find yourself rooting for her despite all of her flaws. She cusses like a sailor, understands that she has issues being cruel to people, and once refers to herself as "Carbohydrate Barbie". There were several occasions when I was reading this in my break room at work and had to clamp my hand over my mouth to stop myself from laughing loudly and incessantly. The fact that this is a memoir and she's actually a real person makes this even better. By the end of the book you do feel that she has learned her lesson about needless spending and how she is going to take her second chance and make life better. She starts to have a bit of humility and becomes a tolerable human being. Also, this takes place in Chicago and as a native Wisconsinite I knew most of the places she was talking about! So that was fun too.
The first book of Jen's that I read was her second memoir, Bright Lights, Big Ass, which is my favorite of all her books. That book talks about her life in the city (after the events of Bitter is the New Black) and how she's calmed down a bit. She devotes pages upon pages to her love of Ikea, Target, and Trader Joes (this I can relate to). However, when I went back and read Bitter is the New Black, suddenly Bright Lights made much more sense, so I'd definitely recommend reading Bitter first. So if you like her writing style but don't like the character, I'd give Bright Lights or any of her later books a chance - they're all laugh out loud hysterical and she as a character is much more mellow in her later books. Overall, I highly recommend Jen as an author and this book, but only if you don't mind a little snarky humor!
As a reminder, this "book club" is intended to create a community where we can all share fantastic books that we read and want to recommend to others. Each week, one of the blogger hosts will write a review of an outstanding book. We will also have a linkup each week where fellow bloggers can post book reviews and recommendations.
We encourage you to:
- Visit the host's blog, check out each week's book review, and leave a comment with your thoughts.
- Post your own book review in our linkup. (Please link back to us on your own post when you do!!
- Also, grab our Friday Reads badge to let everyone know you are participating!)
- Visit other blogger's reviews that are posted in the linkup and leave a comment on their post.
Read anything interesting? Link up below!