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The Singles (2012)
by Meredith Goldstein
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This was a fun fast read. I was pleasantly surprised by the end - all the stories were not tied up in a neat happily-ever-after bow. ( )
As one of the perpetually single, I knew that I had to read this book. I've barely been in a relationship, and certainly not in a long-term, plus-one to events type one. Without a doubt, I am approaching the age where I will be grouped into the socially awkward, not paired off group known as the singles. Of course, I'm only 24, so most of my best friends are still unattached as well. But, I know the time is coming - we all do - when people will start dropping like flies into marriage and babies. Being one of the ones left behind can be awkward.
My usual book fare (teen books) actually prompts thoughts about this too. So many fictional works, especially 'girl' books, but a lot of 'boy' books too, focus on relationships, on romance, on true love. Even in high school, there's this conception of the couples and the people stuck going solo, and an idea that the single people are lesser, are messed up in some way. Unsurprisingly, as a single person, I do not approve of this, which is not to say that I think that couples are bad either. I just think relationship status should not be such a big deal.
What drove me crazy is that there are two single ladies at the wedding, all of whom are absurd in different ways. Why do they have to be weird to be single? One is still obsessed with a former boyfriend, even though they broke up freaking ages ago. The other suffers depression, which she treats with a special lamp. Gah! The single men at the wedding are clearly not married by choice, rather than because their significant other left them or because of being crazy.
As I read on, I did get a bit more swept up into the story, and I was certainly alarmed/disappointed to find that it just ended. Although the opening scenes were somewhat as expected, the story definitely developed some depth as it went along, focusing less on who fell in love with whom at the wedding, which is what would happen if this were just chick lit, and on the group's development as people.
All told, this was a pretty fun read, but it wasn't precisely my cup of tea either. The only character I really bonded with was Rob, since all of the others were going crazy over the weekend. Not sure who exactly I recommend this too, but I guess if you find the premise interesting, go for it!
Light fluff that I read in preparation for going to a wedding as a single person for the first time in years. Not really sure it was a great book for that, but a decent way to pass the time.
Meredith Goldstein's The Singles, a humorous and often dry look at love and its endless pursuit, is a quick read that anyone forced to attend a friend's nuptials alone will appreciate. When it seems our friends are all coupling up, settling down and leaving us behind, Bee's buddies band into an unlikely group to recall their college friendships, career misdirections and several other catastrophes along the way.
When I started the book, I was initially nervous that Goldstein's debut would suffer from the dreaded Too Many Characters-itis. I mean, on the surface, it seems like it completely would. We're talking a real motley crew of people here, folks, and that listing above doesn't include many other peripheral characters or Phil, Nancy's son, who actually winds up attending the wedding in her stead. That's a ton of people.
It's a testament to Goldstein, then, that I could actively recall every person in this book without referring to any notes. I can recall their colorful back stories, too, and the circumstances that brought them to Annapolis, Md., to see Bee marry Matt, her nondescript husband. Strangely, though, the couple exchanging vows are the ones I felt I knew the least. The groom is nothing more than a prop. And that's fine; I mean, I get it. The book is really about friendship and the links between the singles, not the happy couple. Still.
Casting director Hannah was probably my favorite character. If anyone out there watches the fabulously hilarious and underrated "Happy Endings" on ABC, she completely reminded me of Penny. She's that friend who just can't get her act together and has too many quirks to mention, yet you can't help but love her -- and want to protect her. She arrives at Bee's wedding frightened of seeing her ex-boyfriend, the one who just about broke her; he's coming with his new girlfriend, of course, leaving Hannah/Penny to stave off her anxiety in a way that makes her unintentionally crazy. While I really felt for her and hoped she would abandon the Crazy Train, I couldn't help but be amused. Who hasn't faced an ex with a sense of dread and excitement?
Being a Maryland girl myself, the Annapolis setting piqued my interest. References to the Naval Academy, local bed and breakfasts and Maryland's famous seafood made my local heart jump for joy. I definitely got a feel for the coastal, breezy wedding Bee was going for, and liked that Maryland featured so prominently in the book. It seems like much of what I read favors the bright lights of Manhattan or glitzy London, so reading about our capital was great for this crab lover.
Fast-paced and fun, The Singles takes place over the course of one weekend. Everyone arrives with a hefty amount of emotional baggage, and most carry a sense of uncertainty about where life will take them next. I like that the novel didn't offer easy answers, and things weren't sealed and clean by the end. Goldstein didn't pair off her bumbling characters, having each magically find love or redemption. What was messy did, for the most part, stay messy.
Still, there was a hopeful chord struck by the end that I really appreciated -- and I think fans of women's fiction and novels on friendship, love and starting over will appreciate The Singles. It's a light, quick read that resonated with me, and readers who enjoy short character studies and vignettes will appreciate Goldstein's storytelling and attention to detail.
I thought this would be an interesting book, but after finishing a third of the novel, I felt the book uninspiring. The book reminded me of the movie, The Bridesmaids. I could see the idea for a great story line, but the novel never went anywhere, and the reading of this novel was tedious and boring. Also, the laughs were too few. I felt bogged down in a mire of meaningless sentences.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
The collective decision of Bee's friends to attend her lavish Chesapeake Bay nuptials alone wreaks unintended havoc on her otherwise perfectly planned wedding weekend.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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