Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ms. Taken Identity

I must admit, I'm very picky when it comes to chick lit; for every excellent story, there seems to be 100 "Babysitting for the Very Vuitton." What attracted me to Ms. Taken Identity wasn't the cute cover or even the plot, it was that it was written by a guy. And that, admittedly, is 100% why I chose to read it.

Ms. Taken Identity is about Mitch, a college professor and PhD student working on his epic novel. After being rejected by every publishing company, he has a moment of inspiration and a chance meeting. Seeing the popularity of chick lit books, specifically those done by the fictional author Katharine Longwell, he decides that it can't be that hard - that he, himself, should try to write his own novel. This is made even better when Katharine herself agrees to review the book after randomly meeting Mitch at a cafe. The only problem? Mitch told Katharine that his female cousin wrote the book - not him. And so starts a series of lies that spiral around until, of course, the end.

To get into the female mindset, Mitch reads magazines, watches Oprah, and joins a dance class under the pseudonym Jason. There, Mitch meets, and naturally falls in love with, Marie - a hairdresser who is more than the stereotypical girl Mitch is writing about. She's also his roommate's sister. And thus sets up the tale of Mitch - a slightly pretentious 27 year old who learns that sometimes you have to look past everything, every hang up, to see who you really are. And what you really want.

I must admit - I really liked Ms. Taken Identity. At 272 pages, it's an incredibly easy and short read (I got through it in two days). Full of pop culture references, the book absorbs you and messes with each emotion. Dan Begley does a fantastic job of telling a guy's story that will appeal to girls. The book, somewhat autobiographical (to the point that he, too couldn't sell is book so he decided to write a chick lit novel) sheds some light on why guys do what they do and think what they think. And, like every other girl, each decision still frustrated me. There were parts that I wanted to smack Mitch for being so stupid, but his decisions were so real - because it's what a guy would do in each situation. And that one element made it incredibly interesting.

What I liked most about the book was what it said about chick lit. There's one passage that specifically got to me:

In regards to the genre, Katharine states: "Even those stories that merely entertain us have the power to touch us and delight us, and that goes a long way toward making us more human."

Even I felt punched in the stomach there. Because it's true - like Mitch I was jaded by the genre for a while; it was too girly, to fanciful for me. But it still tells stories - ones that people truly love to hear. So what if every character ends up with the perfect person in the end, that's fun to read! And just as the realization hit me, it hit Mitch as well.

It was fun watching Mitch work through his novel, his lies and, even more so, his relationship with Marie. The characters were illustrated wonderfully - from the eccentric Rosie (who, admittedly, was my favorite) to the vulnerable father, each character was real.

Ms. Taken Identity is a great book for anyone who wants a quick, entertaining (albiet frustrating at times), and truthful read. It's a wonderful beach read and a perfect book to share with a friend. It's one that sticks with you for a while.

If interested, here's a passage from the book.


robynxx said...

Ooooh, sounds interesting. Chick lit's not a genre I tend to read often, but I've enjoyed stuff here and there. I think I ought to check this one out! Great review, Lauren! :D

arbyn said...

I've come back twice to read this same review so there must be something about this book! Thanks for writing.