Here is my deep, shameful secret: I’m addicted to drugstore paperbacks.
I even sometimes fantasize about wanting to write them.
Now, let me clarify: I really only like the ones about neurotic career gals living in New York City, usually in their late twenties or early thirties, who keep fucking up and self-sabotaging their love lives. (Meanwhile, of course, their careers are on the right track, even if those careers are making them miserable.)
Why do I like these New York Times bestsellers? These newspaper-print $7.99 books blurbed by Entertainment Weekly and Glamour? Because they’re fun and light and easy . . . but, sometimes, I really hate the fact that I read (I mean buy) these books. And Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed is no exception.
The #1 Reason I Hate This Book
I’m just going to come out and say it: This book is anti-gay.
I mean, forget about all the hetero-normative societal conventions and stereotypes that the entire book is based on, to start with, and just go with this:
p. 53: “Annalise was upset too, for her own reasons. ‘How come you two get to be twins and I’m left out? My bag is gay.'”
Context: 30-year old narrator, Rachel, is remembering how she and her best friend, Darcy, wound up with the same backpacks on the first day of fourth grade. This book’s copyright is 2004, so let’s assume Rachel is 30 years old in 2004. Fourth graders tend to be nine or ten years old. Let’s make her ten for easier math. 2004 minus twenty years = 1984. People were not using the word “gay” as an insult in 1984. Google search results say this phenomenon cropped up post-2008. So not only is this a glaring error, it’s just tacky and insensitive and gross.
The #2 Reason I Hate This Book
p. 74: “‘All right then. I’ll wing it,’ he says, flashing me his ‘I never skipped a night wearing my retainer’ smile.
Ha. It’s terrible.
(So terrible it’s awesome? Yes. So, to clarify: because I will never allow myself to write a line as awesome as this, I hate this book.)
The #3 Reason I Hate This Book
p. 129: “Darcy and I had been friends forever, but I think it was the first time that I realized the influence I have over her. I picked her wedding dress, the most important garment that she will ever wear.”
(But this book knows it. And does not care. And because I am probably the only person on the planet who cares about how this book does not care, I hate this book. Fuck wedding dresses, that’s what I say.)
The #4 Reason I Hate This Book
p. 270: Darcy “takes a bite and continues to talk with her mouth full. ‘I’m not dyking out or anything. I’m just saying you really are always here for me.'”
Seriously? (See #1.)
The #5 Reason I Hate This Book
Darcy hits on this guy Ethan, who rejects her, and from that point forward in her mind he’s gay–“it must be the only explanation” (p. 324).
Okay, some might argue that Darcy, the character we’re not supposed to like very much, is the gay-hating racist (yes, racist. See #6). Some might argue that she is these things because she’s the bad guy in this book. But this isn’t really the case. First, Rachel never calls her out. Nobody ever does. And, second, the author, Emily Giffin, wrote a sequel, Something Blue, which provides Darcy’s side of the story (how her backstabbing maid of honor, Rachel, stole her fiance). What this means is Darcy, in the end, is supposed to be likable, the victim of her best friend’s treachery. But this doesn’t change the fact that she hates gays (See #1 and #4) and is racist (See #6).
The #6 Reason I Hate This Book
p. 282: “‘She doesn’t speak English very well. She just kept saying that she ‘didn’t see no ring.'” Darcy imitates the maid’s accent. ‘I even took the phone. I told her I would give her a big, big reward if she finds it. The bitch isn’t stupid. She knows that two carats are worth about twenty million dirty toilets.'”
The only people of color in this book are maids and doormen.
But at least Rachel’s doorman, Jose, speaks English. For all the good it does anyone. The guy’s so stupid he–SPOILER ALERT–lets Darcy go up to Rachel’s apartment even though Darcy’s fiance, Dex, is upstairs in Rachel’s apartment, because Dex and Rachel have been having an affair behind Darcy’s back all summer long. Jose, who, all along seems to get it, apparently fucks it all up for everyone at the end of the book. Thanks a lot, Jose.
The #7 Reason I Hate This Book
Can you believe it? It’s a movie! Starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, and John Krasinski. I feel like, you know, only shitbooks like this get made into movies starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, and John Krasinski.
(Will I see it? You know it. Just as soon as it’s on-demand at Netflix. For the record, I hate this book.)
The #8 Reason I Hate This Book
If I cared more, this would be potentially interesting: Jose’s character doesn’t make the cut for the film version.
The #9 Reason I Hate This Book
Someone out there is probably thinking: Why is this bitch taking this so seriously? To this person, I say: You’re probably missing the point of this post.
The #10 Reason I Hate This Book
I’m going to get hate mail over this post. I know it.
(And when I do, I’m going to post it here publicly.)
* * * UPDATE / CORRECTION * * *
Using the word “gay” as an insult was, in fact, common practice in the ’80s. According to the first result that pops up in the Google search that I linked (this BBC article), “By the 1980s it was finding its way into schools as a playground insult.”
So, I eat my words.
Way to be historically accurate!
Guess I’m the asshole!