Author: Jennifer Wright
Rating: 1 Star
Review By: Shana
Jennifer Wright has taken an interesting premise and mostly squandered it. In every respect, this book misses wonderful opportunities and the result is a painfully superficial read. Wright has identified thirteen relationships in history that have ended (calling them all breakups is kind of misleading) and discussed what happened. Where each of these stories through history (reaching back into ancient Rome and coming all the way up into 1960s Hollywood) could have offered an interesting vantage point into the times and the concept of love, Wright only does a superficial amount of research and explanation. In fact, she often seems to have opted to put forth the most salacious version of events, or whatever version fits into the moral or lesson she has decided to highlight. She glosses over facts and nuance, and her historical perspective is uncritical and shallow.
The entire book is bogged down in her effort to be funny. Perhaps she was shooting for a Mary Roach tone, where the factual synthesis is buoyed by levity. But unlike a Mary Roach (who typically interjects humor where it fits and doesn't belabor the jokes if they don't flow with the narrative), Wright's humor is forced and her asides (which seem to be delivered with a wink) invite a grimace from readers. I love a funny story or a humorous point, but Wright seems to mistake her popular history book for a stand-up venue. Moreover, where Roach's books are characterized by thorough research and cogent explanations, Wright's lack of historical basis makes the humor appear to be the point of the book.
Finally, Wright has decided to end each chapter with decidedly unoriginal relationship advice (all of which is par for the course in self-help books or online articles). In more than one instance, her quips about modern day life are tone deaf or patently false (in one chapter, she suggests that no one in modern times needs to hide their sexual orientation, in another she states than anyone who enjoys the company of animals over people must have suffered some horrid abuse). Moreover, some of the "advice" she appends to the end of a chapter feels untethered to what came before, merely shoe-horned in.
I finished the book hugely disappointed with the quality of the research, the delivery, and the writing. Wright feels like an author who is more appropriate for shorter mediums (articles, blogs) and not ready for the heft of a book length treatment.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...