Book Review: Emily Giffin, “Something Borrowed” (2005)

Let me just start off by saying that cheating is never acceptable to me. I don’t care what the “reason” of said cheating is. I don’t care if it’s because the guy was your friend first, or if the woman he’s involved with is a stuck-up brat, or if you thought you were soul-mates with the man you cheated with, or whatever. Cheating, to me, is unacceptable.

That being said, I didn’t enjoy the premise of Something Borrowed.  Emily Giffin’s novel tells the story of two women, Rachel and Darcy, and their lifelong friendship.  Rachel has always stood on the sidelines and watched Darcy live a charmed life; Rachel’s the quiet, thoughtful one of the two, while Darcy is the loud, garish one.  Rachel’s lived a life of safe choices, Darcy has lived a life of spontaneity.  However, the two women have maintained a friendship, despite their differences, and the book begins with Darcy being engaged to Rachel’s former schoolmate, Dex.

The night of Rachel’s 30th birthday, her and Dex share a few drinks alone and end up having sex.  The book then goes on with Dex and Rachel cheating behind Darcy’s back, and Rachel justifying it to herself and the reader, by listing all the ways in which Darcy basically “deserves” to be cheated on- from the fact that Darcy’s outshined her their entire lives and Rachel deserves her moment in the spotlight, down to how Rachel and Dex were friends first, therefore, Rachel should have her chance with him.

Uh, what?  My personal morals aside, in what universe can you justify cheating on your best friend’s fiance with that kind of reasoning?!  In what universe can you really justify cheating at all?

As the book went on, I just didn’t feel much sympathy for Rachel. Usually a book’s protagonist (at least in the chick-lit genre) is supposed to be sympathetic and relatable, but that was most definitely not the case in Something Borrowed. I didn’t hate Rachel, but I certainly didn’t excuse her for what she did, no matter what her reasons were.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t rooting for Darcy either. I’ve had a few “Darcys” in my life, so I was able to relate to how annoying she was.  But I think Giffin’s biggest mistake in this novel was writing a book full of selfish, annoying, unsympathetic characters.  Even though I should’ve felt bad for Darcy, I didn’t.  She was a horrible friend.  She turned out to be just as much of a liar as Rachel was.  And I won’t even get started on the two-timing, cowardly, lying bastard that Dex was.  I wasn’t really sure why either woman wanted him.

Honestly, I’m all for flawed, complex, realistic characters.  But I didn’t find the characters in this book to be complex.  They were just awful.  They didn’t have any redeeming qualities.  And sure, there are plenty of people like that in real life.  But NO ONE LIKES THESE PEOPLE.  Who wants to read a book about unlikeable people?  Not me.

The only real positive I can think of is that the book was written in an entertaining way, enough so that I kept reading even though I hated the characters.  I will definitely say the movie was better, as the cast (particularly Ginny Goodwin, who is just one of the most adorable people in the world) comes off a lot more likable and sympathetic than their novel counterparts.

I’m not sure why so many women enjoy this book.  I’m obviously in the minority in giving it one star, but I don’t think it’s because my views on the book are so outlandish.  I just don’t see what’s to like here.  What’s so great about reading a book full of awful, nearly one-dimensional characters that do nothing but make selfish, bad choices and don’t learn or grow from them?  Perhaps the story would’ve been redeemed for me, if the ending was different, but after 322 pages, the characters still seemed satisfied by their poor choices and learned nothing at all.  Where is the growth?  How are these grown women going through life thinking this way, with no lessons learned?  Pathetic.

I think so much more could’ve been done with this book, but instead, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  I won’t be reading the sequel, Something Blue, simply because I just do not care enough about these characters to know what goes on in the rest of their ridiculous lives.

Rating: 256px-1_stars.svg

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