On the Rocks
I was going to the beach for the weekend. Perhaps the choice was a bit preemptive in April, but I was buffeted by the fact that I had just the right piece of chick lit to take with me. The book promised to be gossipy and heartwarming, potentially even with a little modern-day bite. I encountered a rockier start than anticipated.
ON THE ROCKS by Erin Duffy is the tragicomic tale of Abby the summer after her fiancé abruptly dumps her via Facebook as she is trying on Vera Wang wedding dresses (you know, every girl’s dream). After six months of seeking solace in innumerable containers of ice cream, Abby and her best friend decide it’s time to get back in the game by spending a summer in Newport, RI. Abby waffles between feeling like it’s time to move on and acting like nothing more heinous has ever happened in the history of the world.
"ON THE ROCKS by Erin Duffy is the tragicomic tale of Abby the summer after her fiancé abruptly dumps her via Facebook as she is trying on Vera Wang wedding dresses (you know, every girl’s dream)."
Here’s the thing: I’m not unsympathetic to Abby. Her fiancé sounds like a wretch, and he destroyed a significant part of Abby’s foundation in an insultingly petty manner. Her mother seems incapable of human sympathy, and her younger sister, in a miracle of poor timing, got engaged on the same day that Abby found herself disengaged. Her best friend, though very supportive, is mixed up in a misaligned romance of her own. It sucks. And she deserves time and sympathy and help to get over it.
However, any feminist leanings you have will bristle at the way Abby’s self-worth is determined exclusively by her ability to snare a man, and though there are plenty of opportunities for humor, more often than not, Duffy favors a lowest common denominator approach. It’s not a bad premise, and the material is there --- Facebook as a tool of inane social interaction, yuppies drunk on the beach, a foreigner who just can’t master those dern American bon mots --- but the execution isn’t what it could’ve been.
Even though Abby does in fact arrive at the expected conclusion by the end (women can validate their existence themselves!), it’s not very satisfying. Somewhere between being reminded once again of how fat she had become and her truly heinous behavior towards her sister, I grew too tired of Abby to care. Not quite tired enough to dump her via social media, though. There may be a victory yet!
Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on April 24, 2014