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Practical Jean by Trevor Cole
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Practical Jean

by Trevor Cole

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12627155,259 (3.48)12
Jean is content-- for the most part-- with the small-town life she's built. But in watching her mother go through the final devastating stages of cancer, Jean realizes her true calling. She will take it upon herself to give each of her friends one final, perfect moment-- and then, one by one, kill them.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Postmortal: A Novel by Drew Magary (hairball)
    hairball: Not directly related--Postmortal is speculative fiction while Practical Jean is more a comedy of murders--but I think readers of one would enjoy the other.
  2. 00
    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
3.5/5
I love dark comedy and was so excited to read Practical Jean. I loved the concept and learned a lot about how to be a good friend (I am kidding.. about the good friend bit, the concept is fantastic). My main issue with it was that something about Jean and her friendships just didn't quite hit the mark. It felt a little superficial, and understanding that it was not meant to be a profound book, I still think it would have benefited from further developing Jean and her friendships. ( )
  hheather | Dec 9, 2019 |
Dark. Very, very dark. I really liked the narrative voice, and I thought Jean was a great character. Most of the other characters were more two-dimensional, but in many ways that fit the way that Jean saw the world, so I was willing to let it slide. A reasonably short book, but still a little too long, I think; even in 300 pages it became repetitive. And really, after the initial shock of what Jean is doing, there aren't any real surprises or revelations or insights. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
When middle-aged Jean was a little girl, her mother told her she didn't have a practical gene in her body. Jean took this to mean a "practical Jean," and now that she's grown and has found her purpose, she'll show her mom just how practical she really is.

Jean has just endured a few months caring for her mom during her illness and eventual death, and is reeling at just how unfair old age can be. No one should suffer as her mom did, and everyone should go out with joy, before the indignities of age and the suffering of disease ruins them. Ever practical, Jean decides to give the best gift she can give to all those whom she loves: one final happy moment and a quick death.

Jean has many different types of friends: the blunt, forthright one who always tells her like it is; the old reliable college friend; the fun, wild friend whose circumstances have tamed her . . . and don't we all have friends like this? Jean has all types of relationships that she's collected during her life, some that have fallen by the wayside and others that have fallen completely apart.

I took comfort in how the author addressed how difficult it is for women to find and keep friends in middle age. The author concedes a point that men don’t usually form close friendships at this age, and don’t need them or seek them out (is this true?). There are so many things that hinder older women from forming friendships: different socioeconomic statuses, different stages of life, different relationships with spouses. When you're in elementary school, all it takes is "hey, we're on the playground at the same time, now we're best friends," but as women age, the baggage, the insecurities, and the life demands smother many potential friendships.

Practical Jean is an unusual book. Even though she bumped off her friends, it was done out of love, and I found myself still pulling for Jean in the end. (What does that say about me?) The women in this book are hilarious, but at the same time very sad. It's a dark comedy, a relationship study, a heartwarming tale of love . . . and murder.

This review is also posted on my blog: flyleafunfurled.com. Please make me happy by visiting my blog and saying you liked it.

( )
  ErickaS | May 2, 2018 |
I never get black humour, whether in books or movies, and sure enough I didn't get it here either. Which left the book a bit flat, as well as distinctly strange. I really can't see what was meant to be amusing, let alone hilarious, about a woman killing off her best friends to save them from getting old & sick. 1-1/2 stars. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
Dark. Very, very dark. I really liked the narrative voice, and I thought Jean was a great character. Most of the other characters were more two-dimensional, but in many ways that fit the way that Jean saw the world, so I was willing to let it slide. A reasonably short book, but still a little too long, I think; even in 300 pages it became repetitive. And really, after the initial shock of what Jean is doing, there aren't any real surprises or revelations or insights. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
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