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Book Review: The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing

IMG_20140205_085609Let me start off by saying that The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank is NOT a book about actual hunting and fishing.  When I first read the title on the Quarter Life Crisis Girl’s Reading List (see previous post about this list and others), I was instantly intrigued.  After all, I grew up with parents who did both!  Obviously, I quickly found out that it wasn’t about this at all, but my interest had already been piqued by then.

This is another of the many books I found at The Bookateria Two in OCNJ.  I wish I could express my excitement over entering that store and being able to cross off a large handful of books on my wish list… you really have no idea.  Anyway, I’ve had it on my shelf since then, and recently decided I needed a quick read.

Goodreads Summary (and back of book):

“Hailed by critics as the debut of a major literary voice, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing dazzled and delighted readers and topped bestseller lists nationwide.  Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, and relationships as well as the treacherous waters of the workplace. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out issues of the heart, puts a new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.”

Bank split the story into what could only be called periods or “sections” of life.  It starts out with Jane as a teenager, trying to understand her brother’s relationship, and continues to follow Jane through her life as she navigates various relationships of her own – family, friends, coworkers and romantic partners.  While the idea of splitting a book up in such a way sounds appealing, I actually found it quite jarring at times.  You are just getting into a “section” when it ends, only to leave you reading several pages of the next section before you figure out where you’re at in the timeline.  There was also one portion of the book that had no relevance to Jane at all except when it mentioned that she had moved into her aunt’s apartment upstairs.  While I appreciated the undertones of the relationships going on in this section, it didn’t mesh well with the rest of the book and felt like an outlier to the rest of the story.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t exactly enamored with this book.  I really liked the first segment of Jane’s timeline, but as I continued reading on, the story just wasn’t grabbing my attention.  It wasn’t until the end, where Bank FINALLY explained the idea of the title, that I got interested again.  But really, what’s a sandwich with just two pieces of bread and no yummy insides??

I also greatly disagree with the description of the book, particularly the “captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.”  I don’t think this book captured that at all.  Jane has very unusual relationships with the people in her life, and it’s my belief that the average “young woman” just isn’t living in such a way.  Alas, perhaps that’s my narrow-minded I’m-from-Pennsylvania viewpoint bias, but I had a hard time relating to Jane, and at 25 I completely consider myself a “young woman.”

Overall, I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars.  I think it’s one of those you-appreciate-it-or-you-don’t kind of books, and sadly I didn’t appreciate it much.  Have you read The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing?  What were your thoughts about it?

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