Release Date: September 21st, 2010
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: TLC Book Tours
Buy It: Book Depository
Jean is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age who sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. And that's when she decides to kill them . . .Unfortunately this book wasn't quite for me. The satire was well done, not the over-the-top kind that gets on my nerves like Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, but although I found moments entertaining I never quite bought into the initial premise. It seemed that perhaps Cole didn't spend enough time setting up the story, and I never really believed that Jean would kill all these people without thinking twice. While Cole gave her an interesting (and entertaining) reason for doing so, her progression into crazy wasn't quite believable and so it was hard to fathom that she would be okay with murder, even if she didn't want her friends to have to age. Perhaps if she was murdering somebody else she would potentially have to care for in their old age, like her husband, it would make more sense than killing off her closest friends, who she wouldn't have been responsible for, just because she loved them.
Another problem I had with the book was that I didn't care about Jean in the first place- her whole sob story about how her mom treated her and how nobody understands her art, none of it was expressed in a way that garnered any sympathy for me so I spent most of Practical Jean more frustrated with her than anything. I didn't even dislike her necessarily, she just annoyed me. There was also a strategically given speech by Jean that felt contrived instead of letting the story unfold naturally. Ultimately, Practical Jean is a novel with an interesting premise, but its execution and main character failed to capture my interest.