by Jennifer Solow
Have you ever walked into the local Saks, Macy’s, or even the Banana Republic and wanted more than you could afford? That’s what Jillian Siegel, the main character in Jennifer Solow’s debut novel The Booster, finds every time she walks into a store; so, she just takes what she wants. See, although Siegel has a successful career and the “perfect” boyfriend, she also has a shoplifting addiction. The only problem with the book is that I can’t relate to her in any way.
The Booster starts out with Siegel enjoying a perfect life. Great job at an ad agency where she is about to pitch the next big slogan. Great boyfriend with whom she has great sex (unfortunately covered in great detail, which includes where he deposits his come and made me want to vomit). And since Siegel gets stressed out very easily, she does great drugs in the form of Ativan, which she pops like Skittles.
But Siegel’s perfect life gets turned upside down by her increasing obsession with stealing. She loves to shop, but she starts buying less and stealing more. It takes over her life so much that she loses her boyfriend and her job. Not to mention that her family is out to get her (the reason for which I never can quite understand), and one of her best friends dies. Sounds like one lousy day. But wait, there’s more! She also becomes involved in a crazy shoplifting ring and must find a way out.
Most novels have some sort of unexpected twist, but The Booster never really delivers. Solow lays it all out for the readers, whether they like it or not. In fact when Jillian agrees to join this shoplifting ring, Solow tells us “she wonders if it’s a decision she may come to regret.” Um, I’ll take “Big Friggin’ Duh” for $2,000, Alex. Of course she regrets it, has a big ol’ epiphany, and everything ends up peachy keen.
Now, if you are into a very light read with no thought involved and an insane interest in fashion, this sounds intriguing, right? But if you know nothing about fashion, then the book becomes lame, boring, and confusing. I tried reading this book on three separate occasions. Each time, I became so frustrated that I couldn’t get past the midway point. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I couldn’t. Maybe because the main character is a fashion guru who is single and just turning 30, and I’m a 25-year-old married man who wears whatever is in my closet.
Do you know what a McQueen tweed or a Vuitton boulce-something is? Why would someone want to steal that? Now if she’s stealing vintage vinyl, like an Otis Redding or a Sex Pistols 45, then I can understand, but DKNY? I’m a T-shirt and jeans guy. I don’t care about fashion or trends, and anybody else who is not a fashion expert will find it hard to understand why Siegel is stealing all this crap.
Solow took a chapter out of her own life and put it into The Booster. Both Solow and Siegel are ad agents and pretty successful ones at that. Solow came up with the “Hi, from Snapple” campaign. Even though she’s enjoyed success in the ad industry, the focus of Solow’s first novel is too narrow to make her extremely successful as an author.
The Booster is a book for people who are really into clothing, fashion, and reading material that requires the synapses in their brains to stop firing. If you’re like me and could not care less about fashion and require a read that makes you think, then Solow’s debut is definitely not for you.
Simon + Schuster: www.simonsays.com