By The Numbers

By The Numbers - Jen Lancaster I have read all of Jen Lancaster's memoirs. I think that now after trying to read two of our fictional novels, I am going to pass on them in the future. I still really dig her memoirs, but her fiction not so much.

Penny Sinclair is divorced from her husband of X amount of years (I refuse to go look this up) and is dealing with one of her daughter's wanting to use her home to throw her wedding. Another daughter seems to be running from something in New York. And her son is barely in this story though he is looked to as the good one and the only one she and her husband have not ruined. The story-line jumped around and back again too many times to count (we go back to when Penny met her husband, when she was a child, back to her and her husband again, etc.) while also trying to keep the main story-line moving (her daughters and her parents move back in with her and it starts to drive her bonkers.

What can I really say, this book was boring. It picked up towards the end (around 80 percent) but honestly, reading about a woman who is a walking doormat at home and is a dynamo at work was not that interesting to me. I especially hate how in the end she was seen as partially responsible for her husband cheating on her and the divorce because hey she was so into work. I hate it when women who are ambitious are treated much differently than ambitious men in books. Why in the world do authors do this? If a man is very into his work and his wife cheated, most of the book would be about how terrible said man's wife is in the book. In this one I am supposed to feel sympathetic to Penny's ex Chris. If anything, they at least both realized that their two daughters are terrible because they raised them that way.

We don't get much insight into other people at all in this book. I am really disappointed though that we do not really get any scenes with Penny's son who seems to be sane and nice. He was pretty much ignored in this book. There is way too much happening. If we had really just focused on Penny and her daughters relationship it would have worked much better. Instead we had the dueling story-lines and her relationship with her mother, her best friend, and her cousin trying to get shoe-horned in too. I would definitely say for this book, less would have been more. I could not keep track of everyone and I finally just gave up.

The writing....was not that good. And that really surprises me because once again I am a huge fan of Jen Lancaster's memoirs. I think that I should have known since the book incorporates emails to the daughters back and forth to them from other people and to others and the one daughter seems barely able to read or write English. I felt like everyone involved in this book just had a lot of quirks and that was it. I mean Penny finally just calls one daughter selfish and that is seen as finally fixing her. I mean sure, if you are Judge Judy I am sure that works. But it seemed a lazy way to fix what was wrong with her and Penny's relationship.

The flow was not great. I think going back and forth between different parts of Penny and Chris's past was a bad idea. It took away from the core part of the book. I didn't need any of that information, and if anything it ruined the flow of the main plot of the book.

Though this book takes place in Illinois, I didn't get much of a sense of Chicago or the neighborhood that Penny lives in. I think Lancaster could have used that much better if she cut back on the other things in this book.

The ending was a foregone conclusion and didn't hold many surprises for me at all.