This month, Who Do You Love
, Jennifer Weiner's 12th novel, hits the shelves. It will inevitably be dubbed a "beach read" in many a publication, because it's about a boy and a girl who meet as kids, reconnect as adults, and fall in love over the course of many years. Also because Weiner's name has basically been synonymous with the genre of "chick lit," for better or worse, since the publication of her first book, Good in Bed
, in 2001.
If that label has you thinking her books are nothing but fluffy escapism, though, you are missing out. They are about very real, three-dimensional women who face very real, complex problems: body image issues, distant mothers, alcoholic fathers, infertility, addiction, cheating partners, loneliness, societal biases, suburban snobbery, and more. Reading one of her books is a completely engrossing experience, and you finish the final page feeling like you can face your own challenges with just a little more courage.
Weiner has dedicated many interviews, blog posts, and essays to defending her "likable" characters and happy endings to those who prefer more difficult protagonists and plots. As her never-flagging book sales show, many readers get the point. Even if her characters usually get a happily ever after, even if they wind up landing Prince Charming and the perfect job, their struggles along the way are what's important.
Whether you're reading them on the beach, or in your wood-paneled personal library surrounded by leather-bound classics, you will find yourself learning something from Weiner's novels. Here are 11 things we've learned from her so far.