I am not a creature of many habits. I love spontaneity. However, there are a few daily rituals that provide me with some comfort. One of those rituals is to turn on late night television. It rarely has my full attention. It is fluff that I use as background noise when the house is too quiet. Something that I noticed only because of the repetitive nature of this ritual is that Conan O'Brien (before his 12:30 am show ended) would open his monologue the same way each night. He would say, "We have a great show for you tonight!" Every night was a great show. I would often think, "How can EVERY night possibly be a great show? Every night can't be great." This blog was taking a similar tone, as each book reviewed was great. Fear no more, viewers. Every book is not great. Some books, like late night television, are just plain fluff. They will provide some background noise for your brain, but they won't provide a whole lot of significance to your life.
Leah Stewart's The Myth of You and Me is a fluffy chick book that, if read at all, should be consumed at the beach where you only need to have half of your brain engaged. Men, stay away. You really won't like it. It is the story of two teenagers, Sonia and Cameron, who become best friends in high school. They attend college together and immediately following graduation, they have a falling out over - can you guess? - a boy. Their falling out deeply affects the life decisions that Cameron makes. And, predictably, those decisions do not appear to be good ones. As she approaches her 30th birthday, Cameron makes a new best friend with her 90-year old boss who encourages her to reconcile with Sonia. The reader realizes that if the two friends could just reconcile, Cameron's life would be okay again.
The book is predictable, juvenile, and easy. Shouldn't I have known as much when the cover quotes People Magazine as saying, "A smart, exceedingly well-written story about the mysteries at the heart of even the most intimate friendships between women. You'll be reading into the wee hours." Alas, I decided to read it anyway for my upcoming book club meeting.
I feel a twang of guilt for criticizing this book because I'm not a writer, and Leah Stewart could write paragraphs around me. I am just a reader with a reaction. To alleviate some of my guilt, I'm going to give you some of Stewart's non-fluff:
"A person is not a suitcase, with a finite number of items to unpack." This is true, no? Just when I think I have someone figured out, they surprise me. That's a wonderful thing. Like I said, I love spontaneity.
"There's something to be said for living a life subject to someone else's needs - you never have those empty periods of vague discontent brought on by too much freedom, too little purpose." This is so true, isn't it? Oh, and look! There's that empty theme again. It even shows up in the fluffy books. Huh. Interesting.
With that previous quote, we see that Cameron loves routine. Later on, she makes this observation, "Nothing is stranger than the familiar become unfamiliar. A house on your street that you never stopped to see before, so that it seems to have been dropped into place with its rosebushes, its bicycles in the yard, like a fairy cottage appearing from the mist. A birthmark on your back that you never noticed in twenty-five years of looking at your own skin. Why, you don't know anything, do you?"
My favorite three sentences in the book are these: "There's nothing lonelier than being angry at someone who's indifferent to your anger. It's like playing catch off a wall by yourself. Everything you feel just bounces back to you." Thank you, Ms. Stewart, for that.
The last notable paragraph is this one, and I share it only because it provides fodder for the upcoming review of Beach Music. Cameron's father is discussing Dickens' Great Expectations with her.
"If I remember right," he said slowly, "he meant to give that one an unhappy ending, but then he rewrote it to make it happy." He looked at me and smiled. "To give love a victory." I crossed my legs and sat up straight. "But that's not what life is like. So why rewrite it?" He paged through the book without appearing to see it. "You know," he said, "a happy ending isn't really the end. It's just the place where you choose to stop telling the story. Why not make everything work out when you have the chance?"