The Next Best Thing Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Next Best Thing

Ruthie heads for California with her grandmother, the elder's emotional support and huge dream of making it in Hollywood as a screen writer. At the tender age of twenty-three Ruth has only known her hometown inestled deep in the state of Massachusetts. A survivor she's made it through an accident which leaves her face disfigured, losing her parents in a car accident, and several surgeries.
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Her jazzy grandma dresses to the nines and takes in Hollywood working as an extra to help Ruth with the rent in their shared Beverly Hills assisted living apartment. She supports Ruth with encouragement with unyielding belief in her granddaughter's writing ability.

Likeable and known as pretty serious, Ruth has been writing since she was a kid. Writing, has helped her to deal with the isolation of being different. People see her scars from the way the accident (without knowing the number of surgeries shes endured to save her life) and judge on her without knowing her determined (as her grandmother says) spirit to make it through the worst of times.

Even her grandmother has a boyfriend. She found him on an on-line dating site and he treats the young- at-heart matriarch well. At seventy-six years young Grandma cooks up fabulous gourmet meals for Ruthie and Morris. She wants to see Ruth make in Hollywood, but also to know the love of a good man. Morris pinch hits too, letting Ruthie know that if she ever dates anyone who treats her wrong to let him know. Not quite a little person, he just misses the cut and therefore understands what it is like to be judged on appearance alone.

Ruthie falls for the wrong guy, a producer named Rob who allows her to treat him to oral pleasure without even a kiss on the cheek, so reciprocation is out of the question. Turns out Rob elopes with someone from his work team (the next day) without even mentioning to Ruthie that he was involved. The office couple had managed to keep their personal relationship out of the workplace. Rob spilled the beans on the favors Ruth gave him. Devastated, since shes never had a relationship she buries herself deeper in work.

Things start to turn around for Ruthie when she meets Gary. The problem with her first ever boyfriend, is that he is emotionally unavailable. He doesn't support the length of time it takes to have a script green-lighted. He doesn't mind sharing in Ruthie's achievements as long as they materialize quickly.

A better choice for Ruthie in terms of someone able to show empathy is her boss, Big Dave. She actually works for Two Daves Productions. Big Dave is huge and six and a half feet tall. The other Dave is wheelchair bound. Both have a great sense of humor and take Ruthie on not only as their personal assistant, but also as her writing mentors. These two can open doors. Ruthie is treated very well on the job and a growing friendship between the trio, blossoms.

Ruthie's luck is growing, her script is green-lighted and she is on cloud nine. The two Daves help her make decisions that will keep her name in the Hollywood loop in a good way. Ruthie develops feelings towards Dave, his wheelchair not an issue until they decide to become intimate. The romance blossoms out of short swims in Dave's pool. She's ready for more, while Dave views the situation with a more critical eye. After all, Ruth is an employee. She remembers what happened with Rob and decides that Dave is right. They should both give some serious thought to moving forward romantically. The swimming pool and relaxing with Dave opens up the feelings deeper for Ruth, but she does not want a Rob repeat, or pity sex.

A few days after the relaxing swim together they have sex and Ruthie is in love. Gary for the moment, forgotten. Before Ruthie, Dave dealt mostly with high end escorts and there were always Hollywood types hanging around. Leggy blondes both with and sans personalities.

When 'The Next Best Thing' reviews hit they are bottom of the barrel. Ruth has to develop tough skin to handle them. The Daves have her back and guide her through the process of hearing, but not living the review. There will be more and perhaps they will be better than the criticism in front of her in black and white for the world to see.

The show is canceled almost as soon as it aired. It's all good though. Ruthie did what she set out to do. She wrote a darned good script, oversaw the hiring of the cast who brought her work to life, and had an opportunity to experience first-hand how pilots are made from top to bottom. Not bad for a young woman who takes a chance on life and fulfilling dreams.
Best part of story, including ending: I like that Ruthie and her grandmother are so close.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was when Ruthie decides she can succeed, and that a physical limititation won't stop her from reaching success.

Opinion about the main character: I disliked that it took Ruthie so long to trust herself.

The review of this Book prepared by C. Imani Williams a Level 13 Blue-Winged Teal scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Next Best Thing

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   boatload of casual sex without love Life of a profession:    -   movie producer/director Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Job/Profession/Status story    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   artist Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   Vagia talk! Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Jennifer Weiner Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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