Monday, July 22, 2013

Book 76: Dear Girls Above Me

I first heard of this novel thanks to a fellow Cannonballer's review, so when I saw it at the bookstore I figured it would be perfect for the plane ride I had coming up (little did I know at the time that my plane ride would take an extra 24 hours due to delays; this book barely lasted through the first airport but that's why my carry on was basically a bag of books).  I have to agree with Lisa Bee - it was a very fun book, and I definitely recommend getting it for an amusing afternoon.  The great thing is that even when Charlie, the character, is being condescending about the two women that live above him, the reader realizes that Charlie himself is kind of ridiculous as well and in some cases his mockery directed at the women really just points out his own personal issues.
Charlie is still dealing with a rough break up, not understanding why the woman he loved left him. His confidence is shot, he has no motivation, and he has been moping around quite a bit.  He has some rather crazy neighbors to begin with, especially the one who thinks their dogs are soulmates, but after two former sorority sisters move in above him, he discovers that he can hear just about everything they say through the ceiling.  After seeing how much paperwork a noise complaint would involve, he slowly comes to the realization that this annoyance is actually a great opportunity: as all his friends keep telling him, it gives him an insight into women's opinions (some more valid than others), and eventually it inspires him to start tweeting about it.  As weird as it is, in this novel, Charlie slowly pulls himself out of his rut in life because he becomes interested in surroundings again due to these women.  It's kind of funny but that's two books I've read in the last month or so that are based on men that are doing things that I would probably consider unethical in reality but find sweet in the novels, the other being Attachments.  At least Charlie never actually tries to use his insights into the two girls above him to date either one of them.
It was a very fun read, and I also enjoyed Charlie's friends and family.  His story about Disneyland is a particular standout, and he really has no problems making fun of himself in addition to everyone around him.  The title of course says "inspired by a true story," but it's very embellished and fictionalized.  My only complaint about the novel isn't a complaint per se but McDowell uses lots of very modern and current references to current pop culture, including the Kardashians, Ryan Gosling etc.  As a result, I would say it's better to read this one sooner rather than later before these references become irrelevant or confusing.  I really hope that readers in four or five years will miss some of the humor because they have no idea who or what a Kardashian is but that might be too optimistic - or by then they will have been replaced with someone even more obnoxious.

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