“You Think It, I’ll Say It” by Curtis Sittenfeld

Genre:          Adult Fiction If you think it.
Publisher:    Random House
Pub. Date:    April 24, 2018

I very much enjoyed the author’s previous novels, “Prep” and “American Wife.”  The later was a barely hidden portrayal of President George W. Bush’s wife, Laura.  I enjoyed “Prep” but felt that “Wife” was a stellar read.  These books are why I wanted to read the author, Curtis Sittenfeld, again.  In her newest work, Sittenfeld pens ten short stories that consist of characters who are financially comfortable, all with a female protagonist.   The characters’ ages range from the college years through middle-age, showing how women with distinctive personalities wrestle with the different challenges that arrive at different times in their lives.

The book’s title comes from the story “The World Has Many Butterflies.”  In this tale, a married woman flirts with a man in their social network.  She is unaware that he is homosexual.  They play the game of You Think It, I’ll Say It.  This is a not so nice game played in pairs.   Now, we all have made unfair judgments on people we know.  One usually keeps these thoughts to themselves.  However, she is trying to impress him with her critical comments on what she assumes he’s also thinking about their fellow guests.  At first, it is oddly liberating reading about someone who is speaking her true thoughts.  That doesn’t last long.  There is a nice twist at the end.

“Off the Record” is about a celebrity journalist who is a new single mother.   She is assigned to travel to Hollywood to interview a major starlet.  The journalist is desperate to jump-start her career with this interview.  The starlet over shares regarding her own life and proceeds to ask her interviewer to keep these details off the record.  Will she or won’t she?  This tale had a surprise ending and some major bitchiness is displayed.

“The Prairie Wife” revolves around a woman with her wife and their two young sons.  She is obsessed with a famous woman (think Martha Stewart) who she met as a teen at summer camp.  She follows her now-famous friend on social media, which she hates doing, but is too addicted to stop.  The famous one has a cooking television show where she presents herself as a wholesome, down to earth country gal.  Her old camp cabin buddy knows she is anything but how she presents.  The question here: is will she use her knowledge to ruin the other’s career?   She is hoping this will end her addiction and jealousy.  Does she or doesn’t she?

The author writes a thoroughly satisfying collection on human nature.  She is brutally honest in her assessments of decent women vs. catty women.   She writes about our sexuality, aging, identity and gender dynamics.  She throws in a bit of political feelings, since in the first and last stories Donald Trump makes an appearance.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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