Book review: Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster

by Rebecca on January 31, 2013

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Even if you don’t know who David Coverdale is, and even if you don’t know the words to “Here I go Again,” by heart, you will still enjoy this nostalgically silly yet entertaining read from Jen Lancaster.

Unfortunately I do know the words to said Whitesnake song, as it was always in the background at parties when everyone had big hair (I still do—oops) and people really said things like, “gag me with a spoon!”

“Lissy” Ryder is struggling through a divorce and the aftermath of a disastrous 20-year high school reunion, where much to her chagrin, she was shocked to find that no one liked her, as she was the “mean girl” back in high school who cut people down with her sharp tongue, stomped on hearts with her combat boots and then drove away in her pink BMW convertible, leaving a trail of expensive perfume in her wake.

She is given an unusual chance to make amends, to travel back in time (willing suspension of disbelief) and right her wrongs, which she promptly takes;  in doing so her edges soften and her heart grows.

The repercussions are too great, however, as she discovers that messing with fate is disastrous for everyone else whose lives she affected.

For example, the new and improved Lissy, whom she refers to as “Lissy 2.0,” is horrified to discover that her cruelty was the necessary ingredient that inspired her classmates to become great rather than mediocre.

Without it, she finds, for example, that a classmate who was destined to be a New York Times food critic merely becomes a food blogger who professes her love of oatmeal in three posts per day.  And another who became a famous plastic surgeon becomes a high school teacher with a drinking problem which gets her in hot water with the local school district.

Lancaster’s novel is hilarious, yet underneath the book’s fatuous main character is evidence of life’s greater truths, such as, more often than not, behind every mean girl there are family problems.  Or a mean mom. 

“You know how some families are musical or they’re great at languages or they can all fox-trot, which they show off at relatives’ weddings?  Our specialty is quiet, cutting cruelty.”

I highly recommend Lancaster’s book if you are nostalgic for the late 80s, early 90s, if you had a bad high school experience (didn’t we all?), or if you need a light book to give you a break between two heavier ones.

With just enough wit to keep me from eye-rolling, Here I go Again, is a must-read for those of us who aren’t afraid to revisit our high school years with a little more perspective and a lot more humor.

Disclaimer: I was paid for this Blogher book review but all opinions expressed here are my own.

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