Straight Talking
Grade : C-

My enjoyment of Jane Green’s books is on the wane. I loved her first American release, Mr. Maybe. I enjoyed her second book Jemima J despite its flaws. But her latest release Straight Talking pretty much just depressed me.

Tasha is a 30-year-old television producer who has everything together except for her love life. Her greatest desire is to find Mr. Right, settle down, and spend Sunday mornings smooching and decorating a cohabited flat. Unfortunately, she has a long history of scaring guys off. She falls hard and fast and only focuses on how the men in her life can become her ticket to domestic bliss. This can only lead to tears.

The above is all the plot summary I need to include because, in a nutshell, this book is about Tasha coming to terms with her dismal dating record and the psychological reasons behind it. She has repeatedly gotten involved with heartbreakers because they were sexy, exciting or off-limits. Nice, kind, considerate, safe guys are far too boring for her, even though the perfect nice guy has been her best friend for years and is as supportive of her as any girlfriend. Straight Talking is relatively plot free; the “action” of the story doesn’t pick up unto late into the book. The first half – primarily angst punctuated by frequent crying jags – sort of drags along waiting for something other than a one-night stand to occur.

I often hear AAR’s readers request recommendations for books with sexually experienced heroines, but I don’t think of Tasha as the poster child for this list. Tasha sleeps around, but her sexual experiences have just about destroyed her emotionally. After every affair, she cries her eyes out and questions why she isn’t good enough to keep a man. The way that Green tells her story, weaving past and present together, makes her heroine seem even less together because her broken relationships and one-night stands come one on top of the other. It got progressively more difficult to read about Tasha sex-cry, sex-cry pattern of living. She was always so upset that her relationships didn’t work out, but it took her an awfully long time pick up on the fact that she was the cause of most of her misery.

The book is written in a breezy, easy-to-read fashion, and parts of it are rather funny. But since the whole book is about Tasha and Tasha’s feelings, and since Tasha is, in many ways, unlikable, self-absorbed, and devoid of integrity, it’s a frustrating story to read. And just as it looked like Tasha might be growing up a little, might be gaining some maturity, she did something so immature and unkind I had to give up on her and her Happily Ever After. I just could not believe she would ever get it together enough to sustain a relationship for any length of time.

Finally, I’m not sure why the back of the book advertises this as a story of four best friends, unless the publisher was looking to cash in on the Four Best Friends trend in Women’s Fiction. This is Tasha’s book. Her friends don’t really factor into the equation all that much. The book is told from Tasha’s first-person perspective, and her old boyfriends get as much page time as do Andy, Mel, and Emma.

By the end of Straight Talking all I could think about was that I was darned glad I’m married and out of that singles’ rat race. Tasha and her friends seemed so miserable looking for their other halves, and it wasn’t helpful or hopeful that they sabotaged themselves so much in their efforts. This might be a good book for someone to read after a tragic break up, but the rest of the time, I would give it a pass. I’d recommend reading Mr. Maybe instead if you want to try out Green’s style of Chick Lit.

Reviewed by Rachel Potter

Grade: C-

Book Type: Chick Lit

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : January 23, 2004

Publication Date: 2003

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