Thursday, July 28, 2016

Results May Vary: A Book Review

The title of this review will be: The Narcissist As Narrator.

I could not finish this book. The protagonist was so thoroughly engrossed in herself that I could not muster the slightest bit of sympathy for her situation.

Her husband proves to be gay, and has existed In a world of obfuscation to hide his sexuality. Clearly such a man earns sympathy and perhaps encouragement to seek counseling, but not here. Caroline is so wrapped up in herself that she never has a moment to spare in concern for others.

Her sister falls for a man Caroline imagines as her own lover, and promptly feels betrayed. Not joy at Sis finding love. No indeed. It's all about Caroline, all the time.

Never once did the author provide the slightest glimmer of redemption on Caroline's part, that she would snap out of her self-obsession. It was just all about Caroline, whose nickname of "Care" or "Care Bear" sparked recollections of an old Vince Vaughn movie that really has nothing to do with RESULTS MAY VARY but quite a bit to do with narcissism.

A reader looks for a protagonist to grow in knowledge as the story moves forward. I did not find that kind of growth in Caroline, who remained focused on herself. Perhaps the real turning point in my decision to abandon the book came early on, when she discovers that her husband hid his publishing success from her because he had published drivel, rather than the brilliant prose he thought was expected of him. She should have dragged the man off to therapy, but instead she pursues divorce because she just can't trust him.

Is this really what women's fiction is becoming? Instead of being of service to others, the characters serve themselves? Could this be a work of new adult fiction, aimed at the twenty-somethings who have next to nothing and so hoard what little they have? Whatever genre, RESULTS MAY VARY did not prove enlightening as to the human condition.

It was just too hard to cheer for Caroline. She was too unlikeable.

This kind of book will likely appeal to New York-based twenty-somethings who are equally engrossed in their self-described problems. There is so much more going on in the world that needs addressing that this novel feels like a waste of precious time.

Thanks just the same, Penguin Random House. The free review copies can't all be brilliant.

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