The Man of My Dreams

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"Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah's own life, her parents' marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes - just maybe - lie the answers to love's most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hanna finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling ...
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Overview

"Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah's own life, her parents' marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes - just maybe - lie the answers to love's most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hanna finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling for someone who's not your soul mate an act of maturity or an admission of defeat? And if you move to another state for a guy who might not love you back, are you being plucky - or just pathetic?" None of the relationships in Hannah's life are without complications. There's her father, whose stubbornness Hannah realizes she's unfortunately inherited; her gorgeous cousin, Fig, whose misbehaviour alternately intrigues and irritates Hannah; Henry, whom Hannah first falls for in college, while he's dating Fig; and the boyfriends who love her more or less than she deserves, who adore her or break her heart. By the time she's in her late twenties, Hannah has finally figured out what she wants most - but she doesn't know yet whether she'll find the courage to go after it.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After the breakup of her parents' marriage, teenage Hannah Gavener is shipped off to live with a Philadelphia aunt. Feeling like the divorce refugee that she is, Hannah struggles through her insecurities, seemingly content to live in the shadow of her hip, gorgeous cousin Fig. Later, in sessions with her college psychiatrist, she begins to cope more directly with her problems, but her intense ambivalence about deep relationships persists. Curtis Sittenfeld's The Man of My Dreams presents a central character whose crises and decisions unfold with the hard logic of life. A fine stand-alone follow-up to the author's debut novel, Prep.
Claire Dederer
Prep rode to its wild success on the impression that Sittenfeld, a prep school teacher, was spilling some beans. By stepping outside that dynamic, Sittenfeld has surrendered an easy advantage. I admire that sacrifice. The Man of My Dreams reads like the next necessary step in a serious career.
— The New York Times
Stephen McCauley
Sittenfeld writes in crisp, vigorous prose that frequently rises to eloquence. She's especially good at describing what it feels like to be the outsider in a group. Hannah steps into a car and "is bombarded with music and cigarette smoke and the creamy, perfumed smell of girls who take better care of themselves than she does." Out of jealousy, Hannah intentionally provokes her more appealing and sought after sister, and then "sits there in the hideous, quiet aftermath of her own hostility."
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Sittenfeld's poignant if generic follow-up to her bestselling debut, Prep, similarly tracks a young woman's coming-of-age, but rather than navigating an elite school's nasty and brutish social system, this time the narrator contends with a dysfunctional family and her own yearnings for love. Fourteen-year-old Hannah Gavener is abruptly shipped off from Philadelphia to live with her aunt in Pittsburgh when her mercurial, vindictive father breaks up his marriage and family, which includes Hannah's older sister, Allison, and their browbeaten mother. Sweet but insecure and passive, Hannah had "been raised... not to be accommodated but to accommodate," an upbringing that hobbles all her subsequent relationships. The novel follows Hannah through her teens and late 20s (from 1991 to 2005), as she searches for romantic fulfillment, navigates friendships (e.g., with her larger-than-life cousin Fig) and alternately tries to reconcile with her father and distance herself from him. But the most influential connection Hannah makes is with her psychiatrist, Dr. Lewin, whom she begins seeing her freshman year at Tufts. Although the novel aspires to be taken seriously and Hannah is a sympathetic protagonist, she remains a textbook case of a young woman who wants "a man who will deny her. A man of her own who isn't hers." 12-city author tour. (May 16) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Following up on her successful debut novel, Prep, Sittenfeld once again addresses themes of adolescence and identity. With a sure voice, she details the experiences of Hannah Gavener, from age 14 in 1991 to age 28 in 2005. Hannah begins her tale while in temporary exile in Philadelphia with her aunt Elizabeth after her father has broken up his marriage and family. She can handle her father's having thrown everyone out of the house in the middle of the night, but she is thrown into confusion over her browbeaten mother's decision to end years of emotional abuse. With her emotional moorings undercut and replaced with a pervading sense of uncertainty, Hannah begins her college years as a hermit but soon enters the world of hook-ups and crushes after she is befriended by Jenny and challenged by free-spirit cousin Fig. Eventually, she gathers enough courage to cut her ties with her father, but gaining enough experience to let go of the bitterness requires encounters with Ted, Elliott, Mike, Henry, and Oliver. Hannah's wry wit and unsentimental self-understanding make her story compelling. Sittenfeld gives her a voice that is serious without being mordant, hopeful without being flighty. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., N.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Prep (2005) goes a second round, to report on the romantic misadventures of a hapless, often clueless, young woman. When it comes to love, Hannah Gavener is a late-bloomer. She's in college before she goes on her first date, and she accepts the advances of the first young man to approach her not because she's attracted to him but because she's too surprised to say no. Thus, the slightly too-sensitive Mike is her introduction to the often disappointing, always confounding world of couplehood. Next up is Oliver, a charming Kiwi who is quite incapable of fidelity. And then there's Henry. After one conversation, Hannah is convinced that Henry is her soulmate. Years pass, and they lose touch, but when they meet up again, Henry talks Hannah into moving to Chicago, where he lives. She soon discovers, though, that Henry failed to mention his girlfriend. Still, she knows that she and Henry are meant to be together, so she settles into a lopsided, torturous non-relationship, one that could have continued interminably if not for the unplanned pregnancy of Henry's girlfriend. This bit of reality jolts Hannah from her obsession and propels her on a course of self-fulfillment, which she finds not with the man of her dreams but as a teacher at a school for autistic boys. That Hannah's happy ending is a rewarding job rather than a Prince Charming is a refreshing departure from the romantic resolution offered by most fiction written about and for young women, and it's to Sittenfeld's credit that she refrains from giving her heroine a makeover or putting her on a diet. Nevertheless, this novel doesn't quite satisfy. Sittenfeld seldom delves below the surface of the action, and everything thathappens in Chicago is narrated as a letter by Hannah to her therapist. It's a distilled, distant version of events, almost as if Sittenfeld was loath to dwell on this embarrassing episode in her heroine's life. As a psychological matter, this is understandable-Hannah really is a world-class sap where Henry is concerned-but, at the formal level, it's disappointing. An earnest, if somewhat underdeveloped, antidote to chick-lit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739323847
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/16/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 6.13 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld’s first novel, Prep, was a national bestseller. It was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times, will be published in fourteen foreign countries, has been optioned by Paramount Pictures. Sittenfeld’s nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on NPR’s This American Life. She lives in Philadelphia. Visit her website at www.curtissittenfeld.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Before her debut novel Prep hit bookshelves, Curtis Sittenfeld promised her ninth-grade English students that if the novel hit the New York Times Bestseller list she would buy pizza for the class. Well, I hope that her class enjoyed those pizzas, because Prep, a wry coming-of-age story set in a New England boarding school, became a surprise sensation upon its publication in 2005.

Sittenfeld knows the insular world of boarding schools all too well. When the precocious writer was a pre-teen, a recruiter from the exclusive prep school Groton came inquiring about Sittenfeld at her Cincinnati home. Curious about embarking on what she saw as a potential adventure, Sittenfeld decided to attend the school. As she told the Washington Post, "I just became enthralled by the idea of boarding school, and it happened to coincide with this period where I was restless and ready for a new adventure, in a 13-year-old's kind of way. I was just curious about the world. I wanted a change."

That change she sought would eventually become material for her first novel, the witty, insightful bestseller Prep, in which a smart and singular 14-year-old named Lee Fiora finds herself at the fictional Ault prep school near Boston. The shift from a life at home with a loving family to the elite Ault, with its pretty, pampered, yet cynical teenagers, is an eye-opening experience for Lee, whose wariness of their little society does not stop her from drifting into it. In her debut novel, 29-year old Sittenfeld already displayed a sure-handedness with character and dialogue that many of her older and more seasoned contemporaries would surely envy. Little did the high school English teacher know that her first novel would become such a runaway success, being that it had been rejected 14 times before finally being picked up by Random House. "One editor actually called my agent and turned it down, and then she called my agent back and said, 'I've never done this but I want to un-turn it down'," Sittenfeld says. "And then, she called again and turned it down." That editor is quite likely kicking herself now that Prep has not only made it to the New York Times bestseller list, but has received raves right down the line: The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Publisher's Weekly, etc. The New York Times named it one of the ten best books of 2005. Paramount Pictures has optioned its film rights. Sittenfeld's sophomore effort is The Man of My Dreams, yet another coming-of-age story, this time using a dysfunctional household rather than a ritzy prep school as the backdrop. The Man of My Dreams follows Hannah Gavener for over a decade, detailing the travails of her friendships, familial relationships, and therapy sessions. The book is yet another example of Sittenfeld's gift for crafting fully dimensional characters and blending drama and humor. Only recently published, The Man of My Dreams is already receiving accolades from the likes of The Library Journal and acclaimed short story writer Alice Munro. Who knows, Curtis Sittenfeld may even have to buy another round of pizza for her class.

Good To Know

A few fun facts about Sittenfeld from our interview:

"I eat so much fruit that my friends and family tease me about being a monkey."

"I have trouble staying awake past 10:00 p.m."

"I have a big crush on Bruce Springsteen (but then, who doesn't?)."

"When I was in junior high, my parents said they'd let me get my ears pierced if I made honor roll every quarter. And not to brag, but I did."

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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 23, 1975
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cincinnati, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Stanford University, 1997; M.F.A., University of Iowa (Iowa Writers’ Workshop), 2001
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Man of My Dreams


By Curtis Sittenfeld

Random House

Curtis Sittenfeld
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400064767


Chapter One

1 June 1991

julia roberts is getting married. It's true: Her dress will be an eight-thousand-dollar custom-made two-piece gown from the Tyler Trafficante West Hollywood salon, and at the reception following the ceremony, she'll be able to pull off the train and the long part of the skirt to dance. The bridesmaids' dresses will be sea-foam green, and their shoes (Manolo Blahnik, $425 a pair) will be dyed to match. The bridesmaids themselves will be Julia's agents (she has two), her makeup artist, and a friend who's also an actress, though no one has ever heard of her. The cake will be four-tiered, with violets and sea-foam ribbons of icing.

"What I want to know is where's our invitation?" Elizabeth says. "Did it get lost in the mail?" Elizabeth--Hannah's aunt--is standing by the bed folding laundry while Hannah sits on the floor, reading aloud from the magazine. "And who's her fiance again?"

"Kiefer Sutherland," Hannah says. "They met on the set of Flatliners."

"Is he cute?"

"He's okay." Actually, he is cute--he has blond stubble and, even better, one blue eye and one green eye--but Hannah is reluctant to reveal her taste; maybe it's bad.

"Let's see him," Elizabeth says, and Hannah holds up the magazine. "Ehh," Elizabeth says. "He's adequate." Thismakes Hannah think of Darrach. Hannah arrived in Pittsburgh a week ago, while Darrach--he is Elizabeth's husband, Hannah's uncle--was on the road. The evening Darrach got home, after Hannah set the table for dinner and prepared the salad, Darrach said, "You must stay with us forever, Hannah." Also that night, Darrach yelled from the second-floor bathroom, "Elizabeth, this place is a bloody disaster. Hannah will think we're barn animals." He proceeded to get on his knees and start scrubbing. Yes, the tub was grimy, but Hannah couldn't believe it. She has never seen her own father wipe a counter, change a sheet, or take out trash. And here was Darrach on the floor after he'd just returned from seventeen hours of driving. But the thing about Darrach is--he's ugly. He's really ugly. His teeth are brownish and angled in all directions, and he has wild eyebrows, long and wiry and as wayward as his teeth, and he has a tiny ponytail. He's tall and lanky and his accent is nice--he's from Ireland--but still. If Elizabeth considers Kiefer Sutherland only adequate, what does she think of her own husband?

"You know what let's do?" Elizabeth says. She is holding up two socks, both white but clearly different lengths. She shrugs, seemingly to herself, then rolls the socks into a ball and tosses them toward the folded pile. "Let's have a party for Julia. Wedding cake, cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. We'll toast to her happiness. Sparkling cider for all."

Hannah watches Elizabeth.

"What?" Elizabeth says. "You don't like the idea? I know Julia herself won't show up."

"Oh," Hannah says. "Okay."

When Elizabeth laughs, she opens her mouth so wide that the fillings in her molars are visible. "Hannah," she says, "I'm not nuts. I realize a celebrity won't come to my house just because I invited her."

"I didn't think that," Hannah says. "I knew what you meant." But this is not entirely true; Hannah cannot completely read her aunt. Elizabeth has always been a presence in Hannah's life-- Hannah has a memory of herself at age six, riding in the backseat of Elizabeth's car as Elizabeth sang "You're So Vain" quite loudly and enthusiastically along with the radio--but for the most part, Elizabeth has been a distant presence. Though Hannah's father and Elizabeth are each other's only siblings, their two families have not gotten together in years. Staying now in Elizabeth's house, Hannah realizes how little she knows of her aunt. The primary information she has always associated with Elizabeth was acquired so long ago she cannot even remember learning it: that once, soon after Elizabeth became a nurse, a patient left her a great deal of money and Elizabeth squandered it. She spent it on an enormous party, though there was no occasion, not even her birthday. And she's been struggling to make ends meet ever since. (Hannah has been surprised to find, however, that her aunt orders takeout, usually Chinese, on the nights Darrach is gone, which is at least half the time. They don't exactly act like they're struggling to make ends meet.) It didn't help, financially speaking, that Elizabeth married a truck driver: the Irish hippie, as Hannah's father calls him. When she was nine, Hannah asked her mother what hippie meant, and her mother said, "It's someone fond of the counterculture." When Hannah asked her sister--Allison is three years older--she said, "It means Darrach doesn't take showers," which Hannah has observed to be untrue.

"Would we have our party before or after the wedding?" Hannah asks. "She gets married on June fourteenth." Then, imagining it must appear on the invitations like this, all spelled out in swirly writing, she adds, "Nineteen hundred and ninety-one."

"Why not on the fourteenth? Darrach can be my date, if he's here, and Rory can be yours."

Hannah feels a stab of disappointment. Of course her date will be her eight-year-old retarded cousin. (That's the final piece in the puzzle of Elizabeth's financial downfall, according to Hannah's father: that Rory was born with Down's. The day of Rory's birth, her father said to her mother, as he stood in the kitchen after work flipping through mail, "They'll be supporting that child all the way to their graves.") But what did Hannah think Elizabeth was going to say? Your date will be the sixteen-year-old son of one of my coworkers. He is very handsome, and he'll like you immediately. Sure, Hannah expected that. She always thinks a boy for her to love will fall from the sky.

"I wish I could find my wedding dress for you to wear at our party," Elizabeth says. "I wouldn't be able to fit my big toe in it at this point, but you'd look real cute. Lord only knows what I did with it, though."

How can Elizabeth not know where her wedding dress is? That's not like losing a scarf. Back in Philadelphia, Hannah's mother's wedding dress is stored in the attic in a long padded box, like a coffin.

"I gotta put the other load in the dryer," Elizabeth says. "Coming?"

Hannah stands, still holding the magazine. "Kiefer bought her a tattoo," she says. "It's a red heart with the Chinese symbol that means 'strength of heart.' "

"In other words," Elizabeth says, "he said to her, 'As a sign of my love, you get to be poked repeatedly by a needle with ink in it.' Do we really trust this guy?" They are on the first floor, cutting through the kitchen to the basement steps. "And do I dare ask where the tattoo is located?"

"It's on her left shoulder. Darrach doesn't have any tattoos, does he? Even though that's, like, a stereotype of truck drivers?" Is this a rude question?

"None he's told me about," Elizabeth says. She appears unoffended. "Then again, most truck drivers probably aren't tofu eaters or yoga fanatics."

Yesterday Darrach showed Hannah his rig, which he keeps in the driveway; the trailers he uses are owned by the companies he drives for. Darrach's current route is from here in Pittsburgh, where he picks up axles, to Crowley, Louisiana, where he delivers the axles and picks up sugar, to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he delivers the sugar and picks up women's slips to bring back to Pittsburgh. The other night Darrach let Rory demonstrate how to turn the front seat around to get in the sleeper cab. Then Darrach pointed out the bunk where he meditates. During this tour, Rory was giddy. "It's my dad's," he told Hannah several times, gesturing widely. Apparently, the rig is one of Rory's obsessions; the other is his bus driver's new puppy. Rory has not actually seen the puppy, but discussion is under way about Elizabeth taking Rory this weekend to visit the bus driver's farm. Watching her cousin in the rig, Hannah wondered if his adoration of his parents would remain pure. Perhaps his Down's will freeze their love.

After Elizabeth has moved the wet clothes into the dryer, they climb the basement steps. In the living room, Elizabeth flings herself onto the couch, sets her feet on the table, and sighs noisily. "So what's our plan?" she says. "Darrach and Rory shouldn't be back from errands for at least an hour. I'm taking suggestions."

"We could go for a walk," Hannah says. "I don't know." She glances out the living room window, which overlooks the front yard. The truth is that Hannah finds the neighborhood creepy. Where her family lives, outside Philadelphia, the houses are separated by wide lawns, the driveways are long and curved, and the front doors are flanked by Doric columns. Here, there are no front porches, only stoops flecked with mica, and when you sit outside--the last few nights, Hannah and Elizabeth have gone out there while Rory tried to catch fireflies--you can hear the televisions in other houses. The grass is dry, beagles bark into the night, and in the afternoon, pale ten-year-old boys in tank tops pedal their bikes in circles, the way they do on TV in the background when some well-coiffed reporter is standing in front of the crime scene where a seventy-six-year-old woman has been murdered.

"A walk's not a bad idea," Elizabeth says, "except it's so damn hot."

Then the living room, the whole house actually, is quiet except for the laundry rolling around downstairs in the dryer. Hannah can hear the ping of metal buttons against the sides of the machine.

"Let's get ice cream," Elizabeth says. "But don't bring the magazine." She grins at Hannah. "I don't know how much more celebrity happiness I can take."

hannah was shipped to Pittsburgh. She was sent away, put on a Greyhound, though Allison got to stay in Philadelphia with their mother because of exams. Hannah thinks she should still be in Philadelphia for the same reason--because of exams. But Hannah is in eighth grade, whereas Allison is a high school junior, which apparently means that her exams matter more. Also, Hannah is viewed by their parents as not just younger but less even-keeled, and therefore potentially inconvenient. So Hannah's school year isn't even finished, but she is here with Elizabeth and Darrach indefinitely.


Excerpted from The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Hannah comes off as incredibly self-conscious–about her looks, about what she says and how she says it, about the way she interacts with men. How similar is Hannah’s angst to that of other young women? Is she an extreme case? Or are most young women beset by similar insecurities?

2. How do you think the rocky marriage of Hannah’s parents–and her father’s harsh temper–shaped her attitudes toward men? Is her difficult family life at the heart of Hannah’s inability to settle into a relationship, or is there some other cause? Why does her sister, Alli­son, seem to have less trouble finding domestic tranquility?

3. What do you think of Hannah’s relationship with Allison? Is theirs a typical sibling relationship? Is one of them more to blame than the other for the friction that flares up between them?

4. What do the men Hannah dates find appealing about her? How might their perception of her be different from her perception of herself?

5. At one point Hannah considers, “Perhaps it is [she] who has allowed herself to be defined by men: first by worrying about what it meant that she wasn’t dating them, then by making up new worries when she was.” Is Hannah right about herself? How common is it for women in general to let themselves be defined by their relation­ships with men?

6. What do you think of Hannah’s friendship with Henry? Does she build him into something he’s not? Is she too good for him? Is he too good for her? What would have happened if their relationship had turned romantic?

7. At one point Hannah asks herself, “Underneath all the decorum, isn’t most everyone judgmental and disappointed? Or is it only certain people, and can she choose not to be one of them?” What do you think are the answers to Hannah’s questions? How much agency do people have in choosing whether or not to be happy?

8. Most of this book is told in the third person, yet it ends in the first person, with a long letter that Hannah writes to her therapist. Why do you think the author chose to end the book this way?

9. What does the character of Hannah’s therapist bring to the book? How essential is she in helping Hannah figure things out about herself?

10. At one point Hannah comments, “When I think of Henry and Oliver and Mike, I feel as if they are three different models– templates, almost–and I wonder if they are the only three in the world: the man who is with you completely, the man who is with you but not with you, the man who will get as close to you as he can without ever becoming yours.” Are there other templates that Hannah hasn’t encountered yet? Does thinking about men in this abstract way, and dividing them into such strict camps, keep Hannah from experiencing a healthy relationship?

11. Did you identify with Hannah as a character? Or did her way of interacting with the world feel remote from your own experience?

12. Do you think men react differently to this book than women do?

13. Do you think this book has a happy ending? How do you think Hannah changes throughout the book? What has she figured out about men–and about herself–along the way?

14. Who do you think would be the man of Hannah’s dreams? Has she already met him? If not, what might he be like?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(11)

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(19)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2010

    The ending left me dangling.

    I picked up this book at the library because I loved American Wife. I have not yet read Prep but intend to. I thought the writing of The Man
    was excellent and engaging. Her characters were well-drawn but exasperating, especially Fig and the later Hannah. Will she never learn?! But the ending, which some readers liked, left me cold. It didn't fit with the rest of the book in either style or content. We are to assume she has finally found maturity, but all I could see is that she has found a job beneath her ability in an uninteresting part of the country and is at a true dead end. I agree with one reviewer who said that the book felt like a series of short stories rather than a novel. I thought it was just OK, entertaining in parts but not as profound with insight as I at first expected, when she analyzed her childhood with a chronically angry parent and its impact on her adult life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great characters, but no excitement.

    Curtis Sittenfeld develops the greatest characters. I love to read about their lives and what they make of what is happening in their world. The characters keep me interested, but her novels do however, lack excitement. I think she tries to keep it real, and for this reason sacrifices the unexpected. I appreciate that she isn't quick to throw in the happy ending, but it would be nice to have a little more of a story to talk about. I'm not bashing her, I love her writing, but I think this is what is standing in the way of her novels being truly exceptional.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2006

    Startlingly dull and tedious, unlike 'Prep'

    Curtis Sittenfeld's first novel 'Prep' was an unexpected bestseller. It received much deserved rave reviews. It was richly textured, with a gripping narrative. Her second novel, 'The Man of My Dreams', alas, is rather bland ¿ it is neither richly textured, nor does it have a gripping narrative. It is also dull and tedious. In fact, it doesn't even read like a novel. I felt as if I were reading a collection of short stories loosely strung together, like mismatched beads, into a novel. Lee Fiora of 'Prep' was a complex, multi-dimensional girl who, in spite of possessing a mean streak and appearing rather conniving and heartless at times, was quite fascinating. In contrast, Hanna Gavener, the heroine of this novel, seems rather clueless when the novel starts, and remains clueless when the novel ends. When the novel begins, Hanna is fourteen years old. When 'Prep' began, Lee Fiora was also fourteen years old. Could it be just a coincidence? I wondered. I had trouble reading the novel to the end. Unlike 'Prep', which I read without skipping a page, I skipped pages of this novel several times because of the tedium. It lacked depth and felt hollow. Also, the dialogue was quite uninteresting, and even dreary, often. So I was quite astonished it wasn't quite what I expected. I knew that Curtis Sittenfeld has the prowess to write well, and so I expected to experience the joy of reading as I did when I read 'Prep'. I hope in her next novel she will find the narrative power that she abundantly displayed in 'Prep'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Kaya williams

    "Welcome!"she said smiling brightly

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    Nice summer read

    I really like Curtis Sittenfield. This one was a bit uneven--it felt unfinished and the characters a little incomplete. I enjoyed Fig's character more than the protagonist's, but that could be because she was so bold. I found myself getting angry at Hannah for being a tad on the whiny and entitled side, and some of her experiences felt false and somewhat reaching. However, this is still worth reading, especially if you like Sittenfield. Prep is still a stronger book, although I haven't gotten to American Wife yet. Overall, I would recommend this as a "beach read," albeit perhaps a more literary read than the quintessential chick lit.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    Good, but a Slow Read

    I was expecting an amazing or just an overall good read after reading Prep, which I loved by her, but this book seemed to drag on. It had a lot of great parts, but it wasn't a page turner.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Very Accurate!

    The Man of My Dreams is a very entertaining portrayal on the trials and tribulations of love in a young woman's life. Very few women find true love immediately, if any, and therefore I could really relate to the struggles that Hannah encounters while looking for love. Even her relationships with her family and friends are complex; never a hint of simplicity in her relationships. I think that many young women can relate to this difficulty in relationships as well as a feeling of being overcome by the poor relationships in our lives. This is a very interesting look at how the decisions we make affect our lives and I would definitely recommend it, especially to teens or young adults. It's a great look at our experiences through someone else's life!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2008

    MeganH09 The Man of my Dreams

    The Ex-Boyfriend of Her Dreams <BR/><BR/> Curtis Sittenfeld is a very talented author that portrays a young girl struggling to find herself amongst all the negativity in her life. The story opens with Hannah on her way to her aunt¿s house, because her parents have split. Hannah is reminiscing about what life used to be like before her parents split up. The way the beginning is written adds turmoil to Hannah¿s already complicated life. The author does not always talk about the topic at hand. He dances around the subject by talking about other people¿s lives instead. Hannah also uses a lot of alliterations when she talks. Her speech is very smooth and controlled, as if she thinks too much about what she is saying. She is so careful with her words even at the age of nine, that you begin to wonder just what she has gone through as a child.<BR/> We are then rushed forward to Hannah¿s college years. Not much has changed and she seems to be the same person she was when she was nine. Hannah is still very timid, very shy, and very controlled. She does nothing out of the ordinary, or anything that will draw attention to her. It seems she is afraid of the outside world. The tone is very critical in this section. Not only does Hannah feel people are judging her, she is also very quick to judge. Hannah does not make many friends, and the friends she does have take her for granted every chance they get. <BR/> The story jumps ahead once more and we are in Alaska with Hannah and her sister Allison. The way Allison talks makes you want to believe every word she is saying, she has a lot of credibility. At the same time you feel bad for Hannah because you know she feels inferior to Allison in everyway. Hannah does nothing to hide this envy and also calls Allison out on her ¿perfect behavior.¿ <BR/>Every part of the story is a big leap forward with minor details in between. Most of the major facts or details are at the beginning of the chunk. Each chunk is a new Hannah, some part of Hannah has improved or changed in some way. The last major chunk of the story Hannah chooses to follow a man to Chicago because she believes they are soul mates. At this time Hannah is also seeing a physiatrist, and must say goodbye to a woman she believes is one of her best friends. This chunk is very cynical, you as the reader are cynical, as well as Hannah¿s physiatrist. You want to know why Hannah feels they are soul mates, because the mold of a happy couple is not present. <BR/> Every chunk of Hannah is something new and creative. As the story goes on and you identify the way the story is broken down you realize the way the author intended it to be read. You as the reader can identify with Hannah even if it is a very small aspect of your life. You also want Hannah to get better, to feel better about herself, and to find the man of her dreams.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2008

    An amazing book

    I've read the book 'Prep' about five times. So when I was walking around the store, and saw this book, I instantly bought it. The book is sincere and enlightening. It tells an amazingly honest tale of a girl. Everything about it made me fall in love with the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    Improved from Prep

    I am also a lover of the book 'Prep', and I think 'Man of My Dreams' was an improvement from her first book. One might notice in 'Prep' there's a lot of excess information that may not keep you fully into the story however, with this book, there's no side information-- everything is directly to the point. I'd recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2007

    Not as good as Prep

    I was looking forward to reading this book because I really enjoyed Prep. I was very disappointed in the main character's choices and I thought it was rather depressing to read. Prep was refreshing and fun, this was boring and sad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2007

    Nothing Special

    I read Prep first and loved it. I expected this to be just as good. The main character was nothing special and I had a hard time liking her and understanding why her story was out of the ordinary. It was really slow and even though I have finished, I am still waiting for something to happen in the plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2007

    A wonderful second book

    I enjoyed this book even more than Prep. I could relate to Hannah's twenty-something insecurities and her difficult relationships with her sister, father and cousin. It brought back memories of my own turbulent twenties. It's a well-written book with a realistic,satisfying ending - not a happily-ever-after one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2007

    great book

    I was a little worried about reading this book based on some of the reviews listed here, and I loved 'Prep' so much I didn't want to be disappointed, but I loved this book too! I can't wait to see what she writes next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2006

    I LOVED this book.

    I loved Prep, but this book was far better. I recommend it to any girl in her twenties.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2006

    Title doesn't fit the book

    This book is ok. The story is however told in third person so you can easily get confussed. Overall its a good story but not told very well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2006

    Not to bad

    This book started slow, but it picked up speed after page 100. I didn't think that it was nearly as good as Prep, but I did enjoy it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2006

    Average

    I had just finished reading 'Prep' when I stumbled upon Sittenfeld's newest novel at the bookstore. I enjoyed, but didn't love her first, and as another person commented, I expected this novel to be better. It wasn't. It is far better composed, but as I felt with her first novel, the language and dialogue can seem contrived, the characters dull, the plot stagnant. What you get out of this novel is what you put into it. If you think about the classic coming-of-age story and how it pertains to you, the characters and essentially the novel itself will have meaning. Read superficially, the book is superficial. I most enjoyed thinking of how I would react in the given situation, and despite some rather tedious portions of the novel, on the whole it was thought-provoking. The ending was average, a bit unoriginal, although it definitely could have been worse. Overall, the novel is 'okay' at best. I would recommend it mostly if you don't have other pressing works on your list and if the synopsis & these reviews sound appealing to you but I warn all readers of works of 'literary merit,' that you will likely be disappointed. This isn't a ground-breaking novel, it isn't original in plot or in form, but it will entertain you enough that you'll read it till the end and probably finish it without hating the protagonist or the writer or yourself for reading it. I say you skip it though, there are better works available in this genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2006

    Different, But Good

    I liked this book for one reason: the ending. Sittenfeld was able to get across to me that Hannah really had reached a point of contentment without a man in her life while acknowledging that one could be in her future. Admittedly, it took her a while to get there and the book became tedious at times because of this. But the character of Hannah was, above all, practical and tenacious about who she was --no mind games for her (like so many others in her life!). In her odd way, she was rather endearing and I was happy for her eventual contentment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2006

    promising title pointless book

    I have to admit that after reading prep and being entertained but not blown away i thought maybe the second book would be better. However the lead character is not very likable, pretty disgruntled and generally uninteresting person, by the time the book closes it tries to play it off like she's reach some kind of realization about love and life and what it means to be happy but it just doesn't work. There are defitently funny and relatable moments like prep but this one falls short of any real raw emotions and honesty. if you really are interested i would go to the library or wait for paperback, not worth the 20 bucks

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