Review – Jeneration X

Title: Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult’s Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It’s Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner

Author: Jen Lancaster

Reviewed by Holly

Before I review this book, I feel like I must provide some context (and yes, about 75% of the time, if you ask me a simple question, this is how I begin).

Saturday, I ran a half marathon. Monday, I picked up a book from the library about John Brown and the Civil War. I just want to get those facts out there before admitting that I spent Tuesday night sitting on the couch eating M&Ms and reading this book.

And, for further context, I really struggle with the idea of # ratings for books, because, well, I make it a point to not ready crappy books (or so I thought). I figured that probably 80% of what I review will be solid 3 star selections, with some venturing into the territory of books I can’t shut up about.

I think it’s pretty clear where this is going.

I did not enjoy this book.

(I didn’t really enjoy my M&Ms either, but I finished both so that I could move on to better choices. Perhaps the wiser choice would have been to put down both. Or at least the book. But, I did recently come across the term brilliant term hate-reading. I shall not link to any teenage vampire books, but I assure you that I am familiar with the concept of hate reading.)

Back to Jen. I feel like I can call her Jen. I laughed out loud through Bitter is the New Black. I related to her struggles in Such a Pretty Fat (see M&Ms, above). I too appreciate the mecca of Tar-jay, and also have a deep and abiding love for pork chops.

I read her first three books years ago, and then I took a long hiatus, mostly because Pretty in Plaid was the next to come out and it was a hardcover and – ain’t nobody got time for that.

Recently, thanks to paperbackswapping and a sister who is a good sharer, I found myself in possession of Pretty in Plaid, My Fair Lazy, Jeneration X, and The Tao of Martha.

I read My Fair Lazy, and, it was okay. I finished it, sent it off though paperback swap, and promptly erased most of it from my mind. I read Pretty in Plaid, and I liked that more than I thought I would, especially because the stories were new, and included (exaggerated and revisionist maybe, but still fun) glimpses of Jen’s childhood and her career pre-Bitter. I read The Tao of Martha, and I really liked that more than I expected, and have in fact highly recommended it to a couple people.

Then I read Jeneration X, because I thought that it would be a quick read and fun book to review next. Quick, yes. Fun, well, I’m 500 words deep here, and have yet to review the book, so how’s that working out?

This book…is just not good. The other books were all centered around a theme (losing weight is hard! karma is a bitch! being organized makes life less stressful! clothes!) – Jeneration X started with a forward about being, apparently, a hard-working Gen Xer stuck between unrealistic boomers and entitled millennials, and ended with a rant about occupy wall street (non-sequitur, much?) but other than that, seemed to be a cluster of stories that didn’t match very well and were not in any particular order – the cats had died and then the cats were still alive. And “I can’t have a court date then because I’m getting an award,” followed by, “Oh, I got a letter in the mail about getting an award!” Not to mention, I spent at least 60% of this book thinking that I had read it already because I knew so many of the stories:  Jen buys a Barbie head on an Ambien trip. Jen and Stacy are BFFs, and did you know you can buy Stacy’s book too? Jen and Fletch move to the suburbs. New puppy!

However, I finally got to the weird story about Jen’s stalker/mailer, which I didn’t remember, ergo, I must not have read the book. (Also, I tried to find the scoop on that situation on the internets, but I couldn’t come up with anything.)

To further belabor my point, this is my interpretation of how Jeneration X came into being. I’m speculating on a few details here, but this is how it feels as a reader.

  1. Jen writes three best-selling books about going from being an a-hole to becoming a better person in one way or another.
  2. Next, Jen writes childhood memoir. This is still best-selling, I’m sure, but she lost me there with the hardcover thing.
  3. Jen makes fun of teenage vampires on her blog. I love her again.
  4. Jen has ideas to write more memoirs, including “become more cultured and less of an asshole” and “volunteering to be less of an asshole. Also, she decides to write fiction.
  5. Jen writes the book about becoming more cultured.
  6. Jen starts to work on the volunteering memoir but that doesn’t work as expected – she alludes to this in Jeneration X.
  7. Jen is on a rigid writing schedule. She told us all about it in The Tao of Martha…must write two books a year, and go on tours, and deadlines are very stressful. (I am not sympathetic.)
  8. Jen must write something for said schedule, so she throws some stories  together and wraps them up with a loose  “theme” about becoming more adult.

This does not work. Happily, I really think she got it back in The Tao of Martha. And, I’ll probably read the novel at some point, but I just can’t do it right now.

(Did you know that Amanda made us a Twitter and Jen Lancaster is one of the first people she/we followed? I should probably not tweet her this review though. Good thing I don’t know how to work the Twitter.)

Rating – ONE STAR

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