2010 TBR Challenge

Avid Reader’s TBR Challenge is good for me and my TBR.  It is slowly (very slowly) winnowing down the TBR mountain.  Sometimes I wonder why some of the occupants are on the shelves, though, since so many of the books I select for the challenge wind up unfinished.

This month’s book: Fashionably Late by Nadine Adjani

(c) 2007 by Forge/Tom Doherty Associates

Convinced you’re having a quarter life crisis? Think maybe a soul-searching trip might help?

Aline Hallaby, a nice, obedient Arab girl, has it all – a budding career at one of Montreal’s most prestigious accounting firms, a loving family, and a boyfriend of three years who has finally proposed. To top it all off, she’s about to fly to Cancun with her accounting classmates to celebrate passing the Uniform Final Examination. There’s just one tiny problem: Ali has failed the exam. She hasn’t told a soul. Not her parents. Not her boyfriend. And definitely not her boss, who will boot Ali out the door as soon as she finds out.

So rather than suffer through seven days in Cancun with her drunken-yet-successful classmates, Ali grabs her best friends, Sophie and Yasmin, and flees to the farthest place her airfare cancellation insurance will carry her: the resort town of Varadero Beach, Cuba . . .

The sea, sand, and sun, not to mention the attention of a certain Cuban dive instructor, soon have Ali feeling wonderfully careless and increasingly reckless. Caught up in a whirlwind of rum-soaked nights and moonlit Havana strolls, this good Muslim girl gets her very first taste of what it would be like fo be bad, really bad. But will what happens in Cuba stay in Cuba? Or is Ali finally ready to break out of the good-girl mold and grow into the woman she’s meant to be?

I don’t know the answer to those questions, since I grew bored and irritated by Ali by the time she arrived in Cuba.

Why this book? I think I read a recommendation somewhere in blogland. And it seemed like a slightly different chick lit offering: heroine of Lebanese descent, set in Montreal and Cuba. But in the end, not so much. Ali just came across as spoiled, self-absorbed, and not very sympathetic.

I felt sorry for her exam failure, remembering how certain I was that I’d failed the bar when my results arrived on Saturday rather than Friday like all my friends. But impatient with her otherwise, and rather disgusted by her treatment of her boyfriend (whose sole offense seemed to be proposing during her meltdown) and her parents (who wanted her to be successful and to marry well – fairly average parental dreams). Mostly, as I read I wanted to tell her to grow up and behave like an adult. My expectation of chick lit heroines is that they behave like adults, even when making bad choices and then fixing them. Ali never seemed to get past adolescent. Of course, that may have happened after I abandoned the book.

Anything else? Am curious about how "good Muslim girl" is defined, because Ali did not seem particularly defined by her faith or culture. She drank, she dated a Catholic boy, she never went to mosque, etc. She seemed Arabic and Muslim in name only.

Keep or pass on? Pass on.

Read this author again? I’d try her again but won’t buy unless I *love* it.

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