I usually enjoy Higgins’ books although they are often predictable and the female character never realizes/accepts her love for the guy until the very last few pages. The humor is what I like. However, with The Next Best Thing, I found only one really funny section and the rest of the novel just made me want to drag this woman (and much of her family) to the nearest psychologist.
Lucy, the main character, puts the odd in neurotic. Her husband died five years ago after a brief eight month marriage and she watches their wedding DVD…every night. To make matters more complicated, she has been friends with her brother-in-law, Ethan, since before she met Jimmy. Now they are friends with benefits (!). Lucy has decided that she needs to remarry but doesn’t want to marry anyone that she can really love or to whom she could become attached. Her family is cursed – her two aunts and her mother all lost their husbands and they have sworn off men forever. So, she decides to put an end to the benefits portion of her relationship with Ethan, hoping to continue their friendship while she begins dating every loser she can find. Poor Ethan!
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Lucy goes miles out of her way to avoid walking through the cemetery where her husband and other relatives are buried, has panic attacks when she thinks of Ethan leaving her….or staying with her, and how the whole town has protected Lucy from being hurt within the last five years (although Ethan is to blame for much of that). And her sister who watches her own husband’s eating and exercise and calls him every hour to make sure he is still living. Crazy much?
What did this book have to do with my faith? Obviously fear of loss, death and abandonment is a huge theme in this book. There are many people in the real world who suffer from similar fears. As a Christian, I know that God has claimed me so that I don’t have to fear those same things. In reality, I often do. But I also can turn to God’s promises that God will never leave us or abandon us, even when we don’t “feel” the presence of the Lord. Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we would be sustained in his physical absence. The Holy Spirit helps build the Church in which we can find comfort and encouragement from other believers. How I so wanted Lucy to know those same promises!
I would not recommend this book.