Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 Heart Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Love and Miss Communication
Elyssa Friedland

Page Count: 400

Release Date: May 12th 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Wunderkind PR!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world... and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear—she's done that too!).

And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can also unplug from life.
Somehow quitting the Internet felt right. Like it was taking the bite out of the knockouts she'd been dealt recently. At least this would make her different from everyone else, more unique than another faceless lawyer at a big firm or single girl in Manhattan looking for love. At least she'd have something to talk about on a date, if she ever went on one again. But that was just it. She was relying on the Internet for dates—now she'd go out and meet people in the flesh.

The synopsis of this book is what drew me in initially; disconnecting from the Internet entirely and searching for love as a single thirty-something in New York City? It sounded like the perfect modern-day fairytale. Generally, I did enjoy this book; it's a fresh, airy chick-lit that won't make you think too hard, perfect for a summer road trip or for the beach.

It's clear Friedland is a talented writer in this genre; Love and Miss Communication is an impressive debut. However, a series of minor details struck me as obnoxious, and paired with the pretentious and unlikable main character, Evie, I found myself docking points here and there, and well, eventually everywhere.

Evie, I think, is meant to be an endearing character. A career-driven recent breakup-ee surrounded by happily married friends, she's a protagonist we should sympathize with, root for. Unfortunately, it became very evident very quickly WHY Evie was single. I mean, she's gorgeous, smart, successful (I pulled these adjectives from the text, verbatim)—what's not to love?

Her personality, for starters. I can't imagine wanting to be acquainted with someone as envious and spiteful as her, let alone marry. While she is a funny, often klutzy, self-deprecating sort of gal, she's not nearly as scathing or socially aware enough to get away with her immaturity. Her observations and outlooks on life/dating are bratty, catty, and often borderline offensive... specifically, I feel Friedland crosses the line when she brings unnecessary details about race and class into question. For instance, every time someone is described as "hotter" than Evie or promiscuous, it's an Asian chick. All the manicurists or servers are described as "ethnic," and Evie's ex's new girlfriend is "a Turkish whore." She often expresses insane jealousy over her friends' perfect marriages, and even worse, acts upon these insecurities frequently. Some friend, right? There is one instance where she literally swoons over a guy because of his university credentials, which she calls "pedigree." PEDIGREE. (It becomes obvious that a primary reason she is single is that she won't even look twice at a guy who hasn't graduated from an Ivy League. It's really that simple).

I was able to count 6 more examples or stereotyping/objectification just by skimming through the book. Is there really a need to bring details of minority race/class into such trivial matters like these? I understand it may just be an enormous lapse in judgment but even if just a faux pas, it got on my nerves big-time. I'm not accusing the author of being racist or snobby, but do all the examples make Evie sound like your stereotypical privileged whiney white girl? Absolutely.

If you can get past all that, as well as Evie's unnecessarily competitive and stuck-up personality (and the fact that she doesn't ever grow or evolve into a better person), you'll have better luck appreciating the romance plot which, while unextraordinary, certainly wasn't poorly written, considering this is a light-hearted, feel-good novel. Evie's technology ban isn't as deeply explored as I expected it to be, but it does serve as a prominent theme throughout, so it sets the storyline apart from other contemporary reads.

Happily-ever-after fans will love the ending, regardless of how predictable or unrealistic it may be.

Pros


Laugh-worthy situations Evie gets herself into // Smart, sharp voice // Fluid, easy-to-read style // Hilariously accurate observations on modern dating and social media

Cons


Predictable // Romance portion seems unrealistic, more of the insta-love often found in chick-lit than actual romance // Evie is a self-absorbed and completely unlikable character // Repeated offensive/inferior references to racial and socioeconomic minorities that really ticked me off

Love

"I really think the experience of losing a loved one helps me connect with patients a lot better than I would have otherwise," [Edward] said.

"I totally get that. I just basically got fired and now I connect with unemployed people more than I used to," Evie said. "It's all about the human experience."

What the fuck was she saying?

Edward nodded in agreement, possibly just to save her from embarrassment.

Verdict


Overall a light, fluffy read that doesn't require too much thought or emotional investment, Love and Miss Communication provides extremely funny and relatable anecdotes about modern society from the perspective of a single city woman in the 21st century. While I had a huge issue with Evie's static, high and mighty character, I generally did enjoy this humor- and heart-filled story about breaking out of your comfort zone and finding love—along with finding yourself. Elyssa Friedland provides insightful observations on technology and the pressures of social media in this debut, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of plot complexity and character development  Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)