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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

The Best Man - Kristan Higgins I enjoyed this despite myself and despite feeling for the first half of the book I would absolutely hate it. But in the end it felt closer to some of her earlier books that first attracted me to her as an author.

I almost DNF'd it. First because I don't get the need to always feel like you have to humiliate the heroine to create sympathy. Faith was humiliated, publicly, quite a few times in the early parts of the book. It gets old.

I also did not like Levi at first. He felt like he was, well, just mean. He never once felt guilty for being instrumental in what became a major, public humiliating moment in Faith's life. Instead he came off feeling somewhat self righteous about it.

I did think the author did a pretty good job of making Jeremy's character as a gay man not feel stereotypical. His love for Faith warred with his deep in denial closeted self in a way that I thought was surprisingly nuanced. Having known someone IRL whose own sexual identity trajectory somewhat mirrored Jeremy's (minus the public coming out at his own aborted wedding) I thought she did a good job with him in the beginning. Where Levi seemed to have no guilt, Jeremy seemed to wallow in it.

I know KH does the bad-date montage often in her books, but I thought it was both unnecessary and a cheap shot to include a transgender character as a moment of plot humor. I am sure the idea was to simply continue to running gag that Faith simply has no gaydar when it comes to date prospects. But that scene left a bad taste in my mouth. The whole thing came off as being steeped in unthinking hetero privilege. The book would have lost nothing without it.

So yeah, I almost closed the book.

But It was genuinely funny in parts. Faith's family is a stellar stand-out in the story. And something curious happens with Levi. I begin to really like him. The author starts to pull out something quietly wonderful in him that makes him the MVP in the book. Also, Faith was a great character. I like how she was positioned in relation to various people in the story. She was unabashedly her father's favorite. She was a representative of the upper class that Levi (and another high nemesis, Jess, who lived in the trailer park) viewed with both suspicion and envy. She is viewed as genuinely nice and popular but not a Mary Sue despite what some of her detractors in the book thought. She wasn't cloying or pitiful which sometimes happens with a KH heroine.

The second half of the book was much stronger, more romantic and more engaging to read that he first half.

I do have to shout out the location of the book which is set in the Fingerlakes wine region which is where I live. The small towns that dot the ends of the various lakes really are beautiful and picturesque and the Rieslings are truly amazing. Although I still think her take on small town life is just a bit too precious Mayberry-like to be taken too seriously.