Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Jessica Brody
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
(requested) ARC sent by the publisher
I thoroughly enjoyed the first Jessica Brody book I read (My Life Undecided) and was excited to read her newest novel, about the spoiled daughter of a billionaire. After crashing her car into a convenience store, Lexington Larrabee is forced to work 52 minimum-wage jobs (one a week for an entire year) before she can get access to her $25 million trust fund. It's a predictable redemption story as Lexi goes from arrogant, entitled little rich girl who doesn't know how to turn a vacuum cleaner on, to more of a real person.

While the story itself, and all of Lexi's daddy issues are obvious from the start, the set-up here is clever and Lexi's voice is funny. The girl is a total trainwreck, at least in the beginning, but she's an entertaining trainwreck whose issues stem from her nonexistent family life -- mostly the fact that her dad is rarely ever in the same room as her. In fact, he's hired a college intern to keep tabs on her throughout her 52 jobs. This leads to the requisite "opposites attract" love story, which never quite gains enough chemistry, compatibility, or emotion to make me feel invested in it. Luke (the intern/crush) is a bland character. In fact, this is one of the book's biggest problems: there's never enough weight to the emotions or characters (apart from Lexi) to make an impact. Side characters, like her new friend Rolando and her ex-boyfriend, enter and exit without making much of a splash. This book, despite its large cast of characters, is very much about Lexi's personal journey as she learns what hard work means and deals with her family problems. And while her working adventures were often hilarious and always entertaining, the more emotional parts of the story -- not just her romantic life, but more importantly her relationship with her distant father -- never quite clicked for me. This may be because the conclusion is fairly obvious from the start of the novel and the getting there took away from the parts of the book I truly enjoyed.

52 Reasons to Hate My Father perfectly fits what it appears to be: a quick and entertaining read. Brody's writing is always entertaining and though this book isn't exactly a comedy, it often reads as one.

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