The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (NY: Random House, 2006).
Make no mistake, despite the title, Sittenfeld writes top-notch realistic fiction. With Prep, she established a scathingly honest voice for adolescent turmoil in the prep school world. The Man of My Dreams begins in a similar world--fourteen-year-old Hannah Gavener's attempts at understanding how love will fit into her life. She's convinced that it should--she follows the love lives of celebrities and sees her cousin through a succession of relationships. Her own parents' relationship is tumultuous. Her father's controlling ways contribute to the demise of the marriage, and Hannah isn't sure what to believe about sex, love, or marriage, though she remains sure they're something she should want. The novel follows her journey through her twenties, skipping through to the choices Hannah makes in her relationships with men, while continuing to learn about love through others' experiences as well. Hannah's struggles will touch anyone who has wondered if there is any grain of truth in the cultural fantasy of a happy, enduring relationship. Who benefits from the fantasy? Or is it a trap?
Deeper than standard chick lit fare, The Man of My Dreams is great read for women--and men--who ponder the place of relationships--and the cultural myths surrounding them--in their lives.
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