Monday, June 14, 2010

Book 31: The Accidental Bestseller

When I started Wendy Wax's The Accidental Bestseller I expected something else.    And I'll be honest. For the first hundred or so pages, I was enjoying the book but not devouring it.  I was ready to chalk it up to a pleasant summer read, with a predictable path and characters.  It made for a nice few pages to read before bed, but I didn't see it as one that would make me excited about a blog post.

But then, something changed.  Having been neglectful of my reading, I took the book off the night stand, and brought it downstairs.  I wanted to be entertained by a good story. I sat on the sofa, the iPod playing a nice mellow mix in the background, and I turned the next page.

 Unexpectedly, I was sucked into the story, and I realized it wasn't the story that was lacking, it was my attention to it.

The Accidental Bestseller provides an inside look at the publishing world, focusing on Kendall Aims and three of her author friends. When Kendall undergoes monumental professional and personal crises simultaneously, the friends band together in a rather unorthodox way to help her reach the deadline for her next novel.  The four agree to collaborate with Kendall on the novel, each voicing their own characters and each- unknowing to the others- pulls from her personal life to create the story.  The ghost authors must remain a secret, and they all assume their secrets will remain safe.

Truth and secrets play unexpected starring themes in The Accidental Bestseller, and in turn, make it a much more compelling read than I anticipated when I first opened the book. Even as I was reading, thoughts abounded about keeping secrets and telling truths.  How many of us, no matter how close we are to someone else, still hold back a part of ourselves, still keep our own secrets?  I don't care if it is because we are ashamed of something, or scared, or just private.  Is there some small part of us that we hold back under the misguided (or accurate) assumption that those we hold dear can't handle that part of us?  If we say we trust someone implicitly- a best friend, a spouse- do we owe telling them everything about us? What if it is just to assuage our conscience?

Similarly, can we still be truthful by remaining silent?  What happens if we decide to put the truth out there?  Or if the truth is found out, and exposed for us?  Where do we draw the line at full disclosure and deciding that we have the right to keep some things to ourselves if we want to?

Set primarily in the metro Atlanta area and New York City, I enjoyed reading about so many places with which I am familiar.  Wax authentically captures Atlanta and its surrounding areas, something I am always appreciative of since it is an area I know well. The unique plot through the publishing industry, the intricacies of the agent, publisher, and author relationship, were really fascinating. That's an area I don't know much about and I feel like I had an "insider's view" into the arena.  I'm glad I read it, and I look forward to reading Ms. Wax's latest book, Magnolia Wednesdays.

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