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Really, what could be better than a booklength complaint?

Gerlach is a newcomer, and she shows it here as she treats us to the fascinating inner monologue of one Emily Sanders. An LA girl on the downslope of her mid-20s, Emily works in entertainment publicity, natch (as that’s apparently what every West Coast girl does, if we can believe our novels these days—one day, there’ll be a book about a twentysomething tax attorney with romantic problems), and spends her time between relationships whining to her therapist, Dr. D., about men. There’s also the standard-issue gay coworker on hand to provide bons mots, and two best friends who’re communicated with only when Emily’s current doomed relationship is on the wane and she needs support. Dr. D. wants Emily to write ten reasons why each of her relationships went bad, and these gems (“If you have to hide your relationship, it isn’t worth hiding,” “Beware of the love bug on vacation”) are sprinkled throughout. As for plot, it’s measured out in men. First, there’s Emily’s boss, David, whom she falls head over heels for despite everyone’s warnings that he’s just using her—then she collapses in tears when she finds out he was using her. Then there’s the perfect-seeming guy Emily meets on vacation who’s got a nightmare of a family, and the professional baseball player she’s convinced is having an affair on her. As frothy and silly as all of these goings-on are supposed to be, Gerlach’s amateurish prose provides no reason to keep plugging away at the laundry list of sad failures disguised as quirky, romantic fun. Emily’s headache-inducing rants—strewn with exclamation marks and ALL CAPS—and utter lack of perspective make following her seem less like reading a novel than being trapped in a corner by a garrulous drunk who’s just been dumped.

Therapy itself would be more interesting.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-059424-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004