Andy Dunne is in a funk. As a weatherman in a city that has not seen rain in almost two years, Andy's job is neither exciting nor, it seems, stable. In addition to his career woes, his wife has just divorced him and left him without a stick of furniture in the house, and he is conducting a fierce flirtation with Hillary, an unhappily married friend. Add a spunky teenage niece who wants him to teach her to drive and the long buried trauma of his twin brother's death, and it seems Andy just can't win. When the head honchos at his job decide to let him go, Hilliary convinces Andy to audition for the host for a new children's television show. He thoroughly outshines the competition and lands the job, but now every situation in his life seems to be calling for a new Andy and he must learn to adapt. Soon Andy is on a new fitness plan to shed a few pounds, ramping up his public and private image, and his relationship with Hillary is beginning to move into new territory. But although the success, fame and money his television job brings is a tremendous boon, Andy faces new and unexpected challenges that may even be a little too much for his new persona. If he can learn to juggle it all, he just may end up on top, and may finally get to see that long hoped-for downpour.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the chick lit genre, but this book falls into a similar yet drastically different category. I think I would classify this book as something I have never come across before: dude-lit. I really loved all the aspects of this book. Here we have a book that deals with fairly complex issues in a light and fun way, but focuses on a male main character going through relationship woes, job stickiness, and family issues. Much like it's antithesis, the chick lit book, the topics are dealt with in a fairly lighthearted and funny way, and there is a lot of personal growth and character development in the body of the narrative. It also contains some very realistic and lifelike slices of life that are framed in relation to the larger world that it attempts to capture. But that is not the whole story. The book has an undeniable charm, and a really convincing and immersive plot. I felt that the characters were not only well rounded and likable, but they had that unnameable quality that made them seem very lifelike and three dimensional.
I also liked the dynamic between Hillary and Andy; there was a lot of playfulness in their interactions and it was fun to watch these two get together on the page. The dialogue between the two sometimes veered into an affable shorthand that I found to be winsome and genial, and it embodied the chemistry between these two characters. Most of the other characters in the book were genuinely likable as well, and I found that although they were ancillary characters, they were just as finely rendered as the protagonist.
I found all the tidbits and behind the scenes aspects of television production to be particularly interesting. Those were the parts of the story that I liked best because I felt that it was an area that I didn't know much about, and I felt like I was getting secret insider information that is normally closely guarded. It was interesting to find out how specific scenes could be shot and how magical elements were created for use in the children's show that Andy was working on.
The book was very funny at times, but not in a way that was silly or over the top. Mostly it was subtle situational humor that seemed very natural in the context of the story. One of the best sections of the book came after Andy had been a television star for a few months and was being told by an old hand in the business all the rules of his new public persona, and while it was funny that someone would have to go through all the rigmarole, it was also a realistic situation that I had never before thought about and had never really considered. Towards the middle third of the book, the plot picks up dramatically and the main thrust of the novel begins to take shape in new and unexpected ways that were thrilling to me. I had been so unprepared for what this book came to deliver that everything in it seemed new and exciting to me, and although I have read many books, the plot was wonderfully unpredictable. I think that the author was very good at mixing the plot and the characters into a winning combination that kept me very interested in finding out just which avenue Andy was going to turn down next.
Reading this book was a fun and lighthearted experience that I enjoyed greatly. Not only did I find a new genre of book, I also found myself held in thrall by some great characters in some really unique situations. If you are a fan of chick lit, I recommend this book as a really nice change of pace and direction, and I think it would make a great summer read. I really enjoyed hanging out with Andy and watching him tackle his everyday life with aplomb. A great character driven novel, full of surprises. Recommended.
Thanks to TLC book tours for including me on this book tour. Please stop by these other sites and visit the other tour stops!
Monday, August 3rd: Chic Book Chick
Tuesday, August 4th: Planet Books
Monday, August 10th: Bookworm with a View
Wednesday, August 12th: Starting Fresh
Thursday, August 13th: Pop Culture Junkie
Tuesday, August 18th: Books on the Brain – Summer Reading Series
Thursday, August 20th: Book-a-Rama