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Review of "Once in a Lifetime" by Jill Shalvis

I wrote this back in July when I first read the book, but somehow, I never posted it on here.  I've made a few changes here and there, but otherwise it is exactly as I originally wrote it.

onceThe other day, I started reading Jill Shalvis's most recent book (Once in a Lifetime) and I have to say that half-way through the book, I am very disappointed--not in the book, but in the author.

I started reading her books back in November when I came across "It Had to be You" at the library, and I glommed the entire Lucky Harbor series in a month's time.  Then, I pre-ordered "Once in a Lifetime" on my Kindle, eagerly anticipating its arrival.  For some reason I put it off, waiting several months to read it.

My problem with this book is that it is seriously pissing me off on the heroine's behalf.  The premise of the book is that Aubrey needs to make amends for the things that she's done in the past and has created a list of people to whom she needs to apologize.  That's all good and if she actually did anything worth apologizing for, I would be all over this.  The thing is that most of the things she did wrong happened when she was a teenager and were always the result of something that was done to her.  For instance, the high school librarian accused her of having sex in the library and then stealing some books, even though Aubrey was completely innocent.  (There is no reason why the librarian accused her thusly and all I can think is that someone did this and Aubrey was just the unlucky person to be accused.)  Of course people believed the librarian because Aubrey had a reputation as being promiscuous.  To get back at the librarian, Aubrey tells everyone that the librarian made it look like she failed to return a book (she actually forgot to return it) because she was out to get her, resulting in her suspension.  Was she wrong in what she did?  Absolutely.  Was it justified?  Maybe.  The librarian was a huge asshat, who did seem to have it out for Aubrey.

double standardThe biggest issues I had with this book involve "shaming".  Slut shaming plays a big role in the narrative as Ben is constantly told that Aubrey isn't good enough for him because of her promiscuous reputation.  First of all, who cares if Aubrey likes sex?  This is the 21st century and a girl can have as much sex as she likes.  Second, Ben isn't some monk and he even admits to having lost his virginity at the age of 12!  Why is it that no one has an issue with him losing his virginity at such a young age?  Why isn't Aubrey warned away from him because of his reputation?  Oh, right.  He's a guy and he who possesseth a dick must use it or loose it.  Got it.

bodyshaming1The other form of shaming?  Beauty Shaming.  This is one that I haven't seen very often, but every time I do it seriously pisses me off.  Aubrey is described as being very beautiful and because of this everyone thinks that she's some kind of idiot.  Never mind the fact that she owns her own business.  Her beauty means that she can't have a brain in her head.  To make matters worse, Aubrey has a sister who is a very successful doctor.  The girls are described as looking almost exactly like each other (so much so that Aubrey stood in for her sister once and caused her to lose out on an internship that she wanted); the only difference in their appearances is that the sister wears glasses.  This makes her look more intelligent and so people are willing to see her as a smart person.  So the takeaway from this book: Beauty = Stupid and Glasses = Smart.

I did end up finishing the book, hoping beyond hope that there would be some kind of town-wide grovel session at the end, but alas it was not to be.

2 Stars


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