If Bridget Jones had a reliable male sounding board, she might have avoided her renowned misadventures. Now, a new novel goes where Bridget probably should have. Author Jenell Hollett offers a refreshingly funny, eye-opening angle on the eternal male-female dynamic in the debut novel, What I Learned From Men. Conceived to challenge readers to reexamine stereotypes, rethink judgmental perspectives, and chuck unsupported opinions, this engaging, enlightening, and delightfully endearing spin on the age-old boy-meets-girl story may just change the way women value the men in their lives. Narrated from the point-of-view of an unnamed twenty-eight-year-old-female, What I Learned From Men charts the character as she confronts perplexing coming-of-age situations, from meeting Mr. Right to navigating the advice of her type-A older sister Jen. As the narrator grapples with everything from her sister’s style lectures to questions of what went wrong on her last date, the stockpile of advice she has amassed from male friends in her teens and twenties comes together to help her cope. While her female friends are matching her in margaritas and overkill on old boyfriends, her male friends are delivering some unexpected guidance, such as, “men tell you who they are at the beginning.” When a crisis in her sister’s seemingly perfect marriage calls into question her own notion of happily ever after, the wisdom of male counterparts like her friend Max proves indispensable in becoming a source of strength for her family. Her brother-in-law, Charlie, who has long been billed as the ideal husband, is suddenly exhibiting highly suspicious behavior that has Jen on serious edge. It also compels the narrator to call into question her very notion of happily ever after. In the meantime, the narrator must also untangle her own conflicted feelings about her love interest, Austin, which become all the more murky in the midst of her sister’s travails. Capturing the emotional challenges of today’s twenty-somethings as they struggle with the harsh realities of adult life, What I Learned From Men serves up a wittily written good read, while also exploring issues that resonate with anyone shoring up strength of character in complex times. Both thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny, this heartwarming, modern story is a must-read for anyone who relishes a healthy dose of male wisdom.
About Jenell Hollett
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Published July 25, 2012
Literature & Fiction.