Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE MAN OF MY DREAMS by Curtis Sittenfeld

If a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs to find her prince, then Hannah has a long way to go. Still waiting for her first kiss in college, she has a beautiful sister Allison and a beautiful cousin Fig. Hannah herself, however, according to Fig's ex-boyfriend Henry, is the kind of woman that men marry rather than date. She's smart and spunky with few relationship role models. During Hannah's childhood, her dad evicts his wife and two daughters from their home during one of his temper tantrums, and Hannah spends the summer with her aunt and uncle, whom she hardly knows. Hannah is more likeable than the protagonists of Sittenfeld's Prep and American Wife, and we share her pain as she attempts to hide from her sister the fact that she's seeing a shrink. Then we bask in the irony that Allison and her husband, who seem to be the perfect couple, are seeing a marriage counselor. The book, however, as is obvious from the title, focuses on Hannah's candidates for the perfect husband. Despite her aunt's warnings that such a person doesn't exist, Hannah becomes involved with Mike, who adores her but doesn't excite her, then Oliver, who flagrantly cheats on her. Still, she carries a torch for Henry, with whom she can share everything, except perhaps a bed. The final chapter is classic—a reflective letter from Hannah to her psychiatrist that just made me want to congratulate her on the wise perspective it's taken her so long to achieve.

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