Since Google decided to discontinue the much loved and nifty Google Reader in July, (Why? Does that make sense to anyone but Google?) I took the time to look around this last Saturday and signed up with The Old Reader. I'm liking it so far because it sort of works like the old Google Reader used to before they upgraded it (just in time to discontinue it). So, I'm all set up and following all my favorite blogs there already. However, I'm not married to it yet, so if anyone has a better recommendation for a FREE reader, please let me know in this post!
|The Best Man|
by Kristan Higgins
There are a few aspects of The Best Man that I liked. It is true that Higgins excels when writing from the third person point of view. The premise of this story drew me to it. Small town girl Faith falls in love with her high school sweetheart Jeremy, the perfect man and after eight years, during their wedding, the best man Levi encourages Jeremy to tell Faith the truth about himself. Jeremy comes out of the closet and tells her that he is gay. Three years later Jeremy is the small town's doctor, Levi the Chief of Police and Faith lives in San Francisco. But all that changes when after many personal romantic failures, Faith is called home by her sister to save their widowed father from an "unscrupulous woman." Faith will have to deal with seeing the "love of her life" Jeremy, with townspeople who still feel sorry for "poor Faithie," and worst of all with that "stiff hemorrhoid" Levi.
It sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, it is and it isn't. Faith and Levi's romance begins with an antagonistic edge that grows before it changes to passion and love. Higgins binds all the characters in this contemporary romance, Jeremy, Levi, Faith, their families as secondary characters, and periphery characters by providing a deeper and detailed background for the central characters and a general history of the town and its social structure, including how this social structure deeply affects its citizens or featured characters. This is all quite relevant and well done, as is the slow development of the relationship that ensues between Faith and Levi and the strong and true friendship between Levi and Jeremy.
Family relationships and humor are also quite important to the plot and, from my previous experience, this aspect of the story is usually well done by Higgins. Unfortunately in The Best Man, I found Faith's family members and friends to be an extremely unlikable lot (this includes the highly unlovable grandparents who can't stop arguing and calling each other names!), and the overall humor is in poor taste. For example: I didn't find this scene funny at all. Faith is obliviously on a date with a married man when his wife shows up with her toddler to confront her, and both this woman (and the toddler) proceed to call Faith a whore over a dozen times. What is that? This made me uncomfortable while reading it, but in addition I really disliked the way the women related to each other and others in this story. This was a problem for me, but there is more.
I always look for LGBTQ characters when reading mainstream books: romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction... whatever! When well done, it makes for a more realistic and well rounded read. However, in my opinion, the author should at least do his/her homework in order to develop or to incorporate LGBTQ characters successfully into their stories. Making one of them the butt of jokes as Higgins does with a trans character in this book is a major fail and doesn't work. Making the one gay character (Jeremy, the perfectly gorgeous, perfect man) into the town's lovable mascot and Faith's faithful puppy-like, adoring BFF, but giving him no love life to speak of is stereotypical and just down right unrealistic. Additionally, for me, the overall dialog between various characters when discussing Jeremy and Faith's situation is more than disappointing, and Faith's general attitude about her botched wedding is highly frustrating.
Levi is an interesting and strong male protagonist with an excellent backstory that gives him depth. His feelings for Faith are believable in the end. I also enjoyed Levi's close relationship with his sister and thought his strong, loyal friendship with Jeremy as one of the best of this book. However, the negatives outweighed the positives for me. It is unfortunate that I chose to read this particular romance by Higgins. The Best Man began with a good premise, but unfortunately the execution was not to my taste. Grade: D+