Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis

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With Aimee gone so tragically young, Jenna barely knows where to turn. Aimee was the one who always knew what to do—not to mention what to wear. The two built a catering company together and had so much in common—well, except their taste in men. Jenna never understood what the successful, sophisticated Aimee saw in Wayne, with his Star Wars obsession and harebrained business schemes. And gained her best friend’s husband…

But Aimee has left a shocking last request: Jenna now has financial custody of the not-so-merry widower. True, Wayne needs someone sensible around to keep him under control, but what was her dear departed friend thinking?

The thing is, as she gets to know Wayne better, his latest moneymaking idea actually starts to intrigue her. Her attractive new lawyer boyfriend doesn’t approve of it—but then, Wayne doesn’t approve of her attractive new lawyer boyfriend. Now Jenna has to figure out what direction her life is going to take next. And she can’t help asking herself: What would Aimee do? (Goodreads)

Source:  Library

Jenna’s best friend for over 20 years, Aimee, passes away after a horrible illness and Jenna is left adrift because Aimee is the other half of her soul.  Jenna is 42, overweight, and she feels alone, though she has a great support system.  Because she and Aimee sold their business, she has money, but no real purpose.  She fills her days with her dog, Volnay, and not much else.  Aimee last surprise is to ask Jenna to help Aimee’s husband, Wayne, with his finances because he has schemes and ideas, but no head for business and is like a bull in a china shop, clumsy and socially awkward.  Jenna has to “babysit” Wayne for a year before she can pass him off to the lawyer, but she has to make an effort, for Aimee’s sake.  Then Jenna starts seeing her and Aimee’s lawyer, Brian, who is completely out of her league, but has a similar brutal dislike of Wayne.

Overall Thoughts:

Jenna is not likeable, at least there were times when I really didn’t like her.  Her running commentary makes her sound snobby and impatient.  I understand that, at her age (though she’s not that old), she’s come to a point in her life that she just doesn’t want to have to do or put up with things that she finds irritating.  Wayne has always been a sore subject between Jenna and Aimee because, for all Aimee’s elegance and grace, Jenna feels like Wayne is way beneath her best friend.  Though she does eventually become likeable, it takes a while because I really felt for Wayne, who was completely out of his element with his love gone, and Jenna was relentless in her hatred of him.  Jenna gives him no slack and is barely making an effort to control her vitriol around him.

The background characters, though, are fantastic.  I loved them all.  Jenna has a great group of friends. Wayne, too, was a lot of fun to read about, as well as his dorky friends, whom Jenna does evenutally need to spend time with.  Jenna, though she is a grown up, was immature in a lot of ways.  Her loneliness causes her to isolate herself, and we see that Aimee dying caused Jenna immeasurable pain, but also allows her to break out of her stagnating life and be less bitter and more open.

I did love this book and immediately wanted to go and read everything else Stacey Ballis has ever written.  I love this genre because it is about grown up women making hard choices and is not necessarily focused on romantic love and gratuitous sex, though that does have it’s time and place. 🙂 It was a very laid back book and Jenna’s lifestyle made me jealous.  And the food talk, *thud,* the descriptions alone will make you gain wait, so beware.  Also, there are a lot of recipes in the back of the book, many of which I saved.

4/5

Casting Call:

Jenna is a chef and, because of her physical appearance and because I first knew her as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls, I would pick Melissa McCarthy for our MC.  Also, MM generally always has a smile on her face and is pretty charismatic, so I think she would make Jenna more likeable.

melissa-mccarthy-228x300

 

Jon Hamm plays a douchebag pretty well (see Bridesmaids) and I think he would make the perfect Lawyer Bryan.  Plus, he’s not bad to look at. Hubba Hubba.

Jon-Hamm

For Aimee, I wanted someone whose favorite word would be “elegant”–and I think Monica Potter is would definitely pull off Aimee’s character, intelligent and funny with flawless taste (with maybe one exception) and someone that I would want to go to for advice.

monica-RS

The hardest one to cast is Wayne.  He’s kind of lumbering but has a heart of gold.  The closest I could come to the picture in my head is John C. Reilly.  Plus, I could definitely see people saying Aimee is out of his league.

header-john-c-reilly-up-for-guardians-of-the-galaxy-and-more-info

Finally, we have Wayne’s best friend and comic book geek, Elliot.  He was the bright spot in the book, my favorite character.  Based on the description I would have to go with Jack Black, who I love.  He’s funny but intelligent and can pull of semi-serious for the right role.

jack black

***

Well, that was fun! Thanks for indulging my need to cast this book.  It’s an ADULT book, if you haven’t already guessed.  I will definitely be reading more of this author and I hope you give this book a shot.

daph

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