Review: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Review: Something Borrowed by Emily GiffinSomething Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Series: Darcy & Rachel #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on 2011-03-29
Pages: 416
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

The smash-hit debut novel for every woman who has ever had a complicated love-hate friendship.Now A Major Motion Picture - In Theaters May 6thRachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy's fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows she must make a choice between her heart and conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.

I think we all have these preconceived notions about what “chick-lit” is: it’s easy to read, it doesn’t involve a lot of thinking on the part of the reader, it’s only for female readers, it’s plot focused not character focused, etc. Even though ‘Something Borrowed’ does fall in to some of these limits it is much deeper than any chick-lit book that I’ve ever read — perhaps with the exception of Jennifer Weiner’s ‘In Her Shoes.’ I can easily say that this is one of the best books that I’ve read in the genre.

‘Something Borrowed’ is deep. It’s also thoughtful, thought-provoking, and exceedingly nuanced in its character development. What I found the most interesting though is that it’s pretty controversial among readers. A quick perusal of Goodreads reviews shows very high ratings and very low ratings. Many love it for the reasons that I’ve already stated. Others hate it simply because of the plot. At it’s core, ‘Something Borrowed’ is about trust, the meaning of friendship, and infidelity. I think many people are revolted by love happening through infidelity. I found myself rooting for Rachel and Dex despite knowing that cheating is terrible and devastating and should never happen. Giffin writes well enough and honestly enough that we really see Rachel’s inner turmoil as she battles with betraying her best friend. But, I also think that Giffin cops out a little. We’re meant to hate Darcy, that much is clear, so it’s a lot easier to reconcile our feelings and forgive (or be OK with) Rachel and Dex. I wonder if this would have been as successful if Darcy had been more empathetic and less vapid? Of course, we’ll never know. Nevertheless, it is easier to forgive Rachel because Darcy is so horrible.

But, I think one of the best things about this book is Giffin’s understanding of the importance of having self-worth. Rachel has very little and we learn her relationships were superficial and mostly motivated by necessity and not genuine feeling. By the time she meets Dex, her self-esteem is so low that she cannot recognize his genuine affection. Instead, she believes she is not pretty enough or smart enough for him. In the end, Giffin makes a powerful statement about the power that self-esteem (or lack thereof) has over women.

The end is very surprising. Though it is happy, things are not tied up in a pretty bow as other books in the genre might have us believe is normal. It’s almost bittersweet — the end of one relationship and the beginning of another. I am sad that it’s the end of Rachel’s story. Though, now that she is happy I suspect she wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. I’m hesitant to read “Something Blue” because it’s told from Darcy’s perspective. I’m not sure how I can handle an entire book from her POV. Hopefully Giffin brings the same amount of thoughtful growth and self-realization to Darcy as she did to Rachel.

Overall, I highly recommend ‘Something Borrowed’ by Emily Giffin. It’s a quick read and will keep you riveted.

 

four-stars

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