Review: Reinventing Mona (By Jennifer Coburn)

Reinventing Mona Source: Goodreads

Reinventing Mona
Source: Goodreads

Length: 281 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Mona Warren is Plain Jane personified. A large inheritance leaves her comfortable enough to eagerly accept the early retirement buy out that her company offers her. Now, with unlimited time and almost unlimited money on her hands, Mona has one simple goal (the first one of her life, as far as she can remember) – reinventing herself so that she can finally be visible to Adam Ziegler, the man she’s been in love with for seven years. And she knows just the person to help her with her image overhaul. Mike Dougherty, or ‘The Dog’ as fans of his magazine column know him, is the most guyish guy one could find. He tells men how to treat (read, ‘deal with’) their crazy, emotional, psychoanalytical women. And when Mona reads his column, she knows that she’s found her makeover guide. Who better to turn her into Adam’s dream woman than the man who knows how a guy really thinks? Getting Mike to agree to the gig though, was difficult to say the least. But, as Mona learns with time, that may have actually been the easiest part of all that follows. On a roller coaster of emotions and trying to find out who she really is, Mona discovers that there’s more to Mike and Adam than she’d known. Every truth she discoveries makes the ride even crazier! And each twist makes it even more difficult for Mona to know what the heck she wants or even who she truly is.

My take:

Three words came to my mind almost instantly when I read the blurb of this book – The Ugly Truth. In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the movie had been inspired by the book, given that the book was published four years before its release. But as I read the book, I realized that except for some similarity in the skeleton of the main story, the movie and book are really quite different. And the book has its own flaws and charms.

Reinventing Mona is a feel good book. Sure there’s chaos and emotion and a load of confusion, but there’s warmth and happiness too. The story is definitely interesting and highlights the differences between the way men and women think, all through the nutty situations that Mona lands herself in. Humor wise, the writing is pretty good. It does make you laugh out loud quite often and smile at other times.

Character wise, Mona is a woman with whom many would associate. Aside from her unique problems, she has those that are common to all women. And the author shows just who she really is simply by how Mona deals with those problems. Mike, like the blurb says, is the guyish guy one could find. But like every human (and every hero), he has his own layers which unravel quite nicely as the story progresses. Then you have Greta and Vicki, Mona’s friends who add new dimensions to her life. In fact, the rapport that she shares with each of them add a whole new life to the story too. What I really liked was Mona’s interaction with Adam. Not only are those interactions funny, but you learn all about Mona as she learns about herself – simply by being with, and learning about, Adam.

Unfortunately, even with such interesting characters, good humor and a funky story line, the book just wasn’t as good as I’d hoped for it to be. The first problem was that it began with great promise and then just collapsed. A few chapters after the first couple got quite cumbersome and slow. But I pushed through them and the book picked up quite well and quite quickly. But then there was the main problem – the choppy writing. The book moves a lot between the present and past; and even though it’s written completely from Mona’s perspective, it gets clumsy. The abrupt shifting breaks the flow too often. Then there was the abrupt time and feeling jumps. One situation simply ended and another began, one that was weeks away from the first. There was no progression between the two incidents, especially in terms of Mona’s thoughts or feelings. All you knew was that she felt a particular way on Day 1 and she felt something different on Day 30. There was nothing that really allowed you to feel her emotions with her as they changed. All these things caused the final product to seem too choppy – like a bunch of incidents lined up with no string to hold them together.

The book and the writing style had its flaws. And the typos, however occasional, didn’t help any. As the book progressed, I shifted from thinking it was just about okay to bad to okay again. I also thought that the story was predictable – there was only one way the climax could unfold. And I think that was the very reason that I can give the book a 3 instead of a 2.5 – the way the end unfolded took me by surprise… and made me laugh a riot while doing so! I was still a little bugged about the bumpy ride, but thanks to the ending, I was able to overlook the problems to some degree and still feel good and warm when I finally closed the book.

All in all, Reinventing Mona was a decent read – light, funny, interesting (for the most part) and warm. I liked seeing Mona come to terms with who she really was and what she wanted. And I liked the way each person who cared about her helped her along that journey. Anyone who is a fan of ChickLit, romantic comedies and curl-up-in-your-blanket-and-read books will enjoy this novel by Jennifer Coburn.

– Rishika

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