Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment OfficeJen Lancaster was a successful executive living the privileged life and confident that she had it made until she got fired and in the blink of an eye the unemployment check was all she had to live on. This is the story of a fairy tale being replaced with real life and a woman who goes through dramatic changes before she can get her head above water again.

When a co-worker recommended this book to me she described it as very funny and I expected something along the lines of Erma Bombeck - a light and funny take on serious things from beginning till end. Bitter... wasn't quite like that. Oh it was funny. Uproariously so. Sometimes I laughed till I cried and read passages out to anyone who would listen. I loved Jen's wit and could imagine every person or situation she described in few but always on-target words that cut to the essence of the episode.
But it wasn't always light. It's easy to understand why - being laid off and living on unemployment is scary. Being qualified and unable to find work is infuriating. Trying again and again and failing every time can make one bitter and it is at that time that Jen's incisive humor became mean, merciless and sometimes vulgar and with that it wasn't so funny any more. All that vitriol bothered me in the second half of the book and I was relieved when things started turning around for Jen and I could see the lighter side of her coming out again. It wasn't the same though - I've already seen the dark side.

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