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When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

BOTTOM LINE: Not for me and maybe not for you

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 5 June 2018
Source: Publisher from NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world—and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.”

My Thoughts: I don’t think novels like When Life Gives You Lululemons are for me. Actually, I don’t think novels like When Life Gives You Lululemons are very entertaining anymore. I get that the story is supposed to be mocking the very milieu it describes, and yet, given everything that is happening in the world, the story felt inappropriate.

There are two specific areas which bothered me. The first is the obscene amounts of wealth, privilege, and their trappings discussed ad nauseam within the story. I get that it is fun to get a glimpse of how the other half lives, and normally I can have some fun with those stories. When Life Gives You Lululemons to me crosses the line between funny to just plain sad. We don’t need examples of people in positions of power abusing that power to affect others. We have that almost every single hour of every single day and have had that every day since November 6, 2016. We don’t need examples of over-the-top birthday parties where all the girls get $300 blowouts. We don’t need to descriptions of cars that cost $100k or people who have nannies and housekeepers and chefs. Most importantly, we do not need another story about someone in power using it to make the life of someone else miserable because it helps him achieve his goals and because he can. Again, we get too much of that in our daily lives to want to read a story about how wealthy the wealthy really are and how the powerful keep trying to screw over the less powerful.

The other area that bothered me is with the obsession with outward appearances. Between Emily mocking those wearing athleisure wear, Miriam bemoaning her baby weight, and Karolina being described as too thin and sexy – all of which occur numerous times throughout the novel, the mystery of why women have body image problems is a mystery no longer. In fact, so strong is the message that being extremely thin is the only way to be happy and have a healthy sex life that I finished the novel feeling deeply uncomfortable about my own body. I began to question my love of leggings as well as what I wear around the house versus in public. Even worse, I felt disgust at my weight. Novels like When Life Gives You Lululemons only perpetuate negative body stereotypes, and I feel like they have no place in this world anymore.

The thing is, while I suspect Lauren Weisberger is mocking the Greenwich community for its first-world, one-percenter problems, I am not certain this is the case. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion When Life Gives You Lululemons is meant to be a supposedly fun glimpse into the lives of the über rich, where we find out they are just like us except with a lot more money and people to do their work for them. This is not The Devil Wears Prada with its story of someone who eventually turns down the trappings of the wealthy and fashionable in order to obtain personal happiness. This is a story specifically about those people Andy left – people who are wealthy and fashionable and, let’s face it, petty. While ultimately all three women have to go down paths previously mocked in order to obtain their happiness, the story is just not the same. It is not inspirational but discouraging on many fronts.

Maybe this type of story is your thing. Maybe I just don’t get the genre. But I cannot ignore the way When Life Gives You Lululemons made me feel both while reading and after I finished it. What is supposed to be amusing is disgusting. Plus, the lesson about opening yourself up to happiness where you least expect it gets lost behind the bombardment of top-tier brand names and unending discussions of weight, clothes, and general physical appearances. The entire story is distasteful on many levels, and it is going to take me a long time to get over the feeling of repugnance I feel just thinking about it.

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