Title: Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
Rating: 3 stars
I was so looking forward to this book and I'm sad to say I was a bit disappointed. I still love Jennifer Weiner, but this is the second book by a fave author this year that has unpleasantly surprised me by being a mystery (the first being Size 12 is Not Fat by the fab Meg Cabot, also a bit disappointing). I don't really like mysteries (with a few exceptions) and I wasn't expecting this to be one, so I was kind of let down.
Now, it's not a bad book. It's just not as great as her previous ones (In Her Shoes is my fave). From the brand-new moms of Little Earthquakes, who I loved and really empathized with even though I'm not a mom, she's moved to the (in my opinion) overdone theme of the bored suburban housewife/mother. Kate Klein has given up her career as an NYC reporter to become a mother of 3 preschoolers in Upchurch, a posh Connecticut suburb. All of the other mommies are like Bree from Desperate Housewives and she just doesn't fit in. She's bored, her husband's hardly ever home, the same old, same old. When Kate is invited over by Kitty Cavanaugh, the most perfect of the mommies but also the one with the best friendship potential, to discuss a mysterious mutual friend, Kate arrives to find Kitty dead on the kitchen floor.
So, because she's so bored and can't be a reporter anymore, Kate sets out to find the killer. One of the best parts of the book is her best friend, Janie, who fabulous, rich, and truly a wonderful friend. Janie is still a reporter and she uses both her connections and feminine wiles to help Kate investigate and also to look after the kids while she's off playing Nancy Drew. The mutual friend turns out to be the former love of Kate's life, Evan McKenna, a private eye. He helps out, too, but the subplot of will she-won't she have an affair with him is out of place. And, of course, add in the requisite husband (Ben) who just doesn't understand and tells Kate to get a hobby and lose some weight. The other best part is 5 year-old Sophie, who is very sophisticated for her age and insists on bringing her Uglydoll from Janie everywhere she goes, dressed in costumes, each with its own backstory.
Of course, Kate discovers the killer in the eleventh hour and there's a dramatic scence where she's almost killed herself. The denoument finds Kate, her semi-estranged mother, Janie and the kids staying at a house on Cape Cod, with the Evan vs. Ben dilemma and her apparent unhappiness with her life unresolved.
Again, it's not a bad book. It's still got lots of Weiner-ness in it, especially in Janie and Sophie and the stories about Janie and Kate's life in New York before Ben. And If you like mysteries, you'll probably enjoy it a lot more than I did. I just didn't think it was in the same league as her earlier books.
(As a side note, I'm ashamed to say that children's librarian me didn't get the Goodnight Nobody title unti Kate was reading Goodnight Moon to Sophie and even then I'd forgotten the blank "Goodnight nobody" page until I came across our copy while weeding. Bad, TLL, bad. But isn't Goodnight Moon one of the most soothing books ever? I sat and happily read it in my office and felt much less stressed at the end.)