copyright 2000 Libby Schmais, St. Martin's Press. 240 pages. fiction.

It's not a terrible book. But it's not great either. An Amazon reader review says "As a frequent patron of Starbucks I thoroughly enjoy chatting endlessly about trivial matters as well as reading books that don't claim to be War and Peace. The Perfect Elizabeth is a great sit down with a cup of coffee kind of read."   True enough. But it's not interesting.

The main character is Eliza, her sister is Bette. Two derivatives of "Elizabeth," as if their parents had expected them together to form one perfect daughter. Interesting premise. But the book never delves, at ALL, into the parental expectations, or how the sisters might or might not struggle to live up to their disjointed names - instead, the novel slumps into all this boring job stuf] and boring boy stuff and boring day-to-day garbage that anyone would hardly bother to put in their own journal, much less a book for publication. Plus the main character, 32 years old, calls her mom "Mommy" through the book. It bugged me.

Good: Occasional funny-slash-odd phrasing I didn't see coming. Unfortunately this doesn't always work in the book's favor - the text seems stilted at times. I don't like thinking, She wouldn't say it like THAT.

Also good: The structure of this book is what made me keep reading. Each chapter is broken into pieces, each piece into bits. Sometimes the sub-stories are directly related, sometimes Schmais goes off on tangents, which is interesting, but doesn't get as wild as it could. I'd have been happier if she'd gone a lot less linear and more stream-of-consciousness; it might have made a bland book sparkle.

Very very bad: On page 238 I started to wonder if Schmais was going to end the book how I THOUGHT she was going to end the book. On page 239 I was filled with looming dread. On page 240 I was proven right, which made me sad and angry and ready to read something less predictable, like the phonebook.

There is absolutely zero reason for the cover illustration to be a disposable cup on a doily. Can we say Cover went to printer before final edit of text.

Bottom line: Trivia is great. But someone has to care.

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