Book Review: Spin by Catherine McKenzie
February 2, 2012 12 Comments
Genre: contemporary fiction, chick-lit
First Published: 2009 (this edition 2012)
I read this in: English, the original language
I got this book: for review from the publishers, William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins)
Number of pages: 440
Extra: My review of Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
Since Mari of Bookworm with a View was also reading this book at the same time, we decided to post our reviews on the same day as well as ask each other some questions about the book. You can read my answers to Mari’s questions below, and her answers to my questions are on her blog, here.
Spin: What it is about
Kate Sandford is invited to a job interview at her favorite music magazine and this happens to be on her birthday. She goes out and celebrates both her birthday and the interview the night before, arriving at the interview still rather drunk. She doesn’t get the job.
A few weeks later, she gets a call from the magazine, who also run a gossip magazine. They want to make a deal: if she goes undercover to a rehab facility to follow a famous “It” girl around, they will give her a job at the music magazine afterwards.
Kate accepts and enrols in the rehab programme. She meet It-girl Amber and befriends her, covertly sending back gossip to her new boss.
But Kate gets more and more involved in the rehab programme and it seems that she could do with a 12-step programme herself. She also starts to feel guilty about writing a gossip story about her new friend. Some serious issues need to be resolved before she leaves the programme.
Spin: What I thought
4.5 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book a lot. The cover looked like chick-lit and I’d say that is what this is. Just like in some of Sophie Kinsella’s books (the Shopaholic girl in particular), the main character, Kate, was a little silly, not really in control of her own life. She wasn’t happy to grow up, so she lived a student life and told everyone she was 25 (rather than 30) and that she was still studying.
I found a lot of elements of the book very unlikely (like a filmstar bringing his personal assistant to rehab, Kate’s parents never wondering where she got the money for the expensive ($1,000 a day) rehab, and many more). That was a pity as it did lower my enjoyment of reading the book. But not much, because it was a fun story.
I would never want to befriend a celebrity because of their status but in Kate’s case, she had to do so for her job (and she seemed pretty obsessed by Amber in the first place). I thought she did it very unobtrusively, which was good. However, I did think the story was too much about her friendship with Amber and not enough about the reason she was there. Her boss seemed to be pretty relaxed and didn’t ask for much. I would have expected him to be more pushy especially because she was not a very experienced journalist yet (and not a reliable person – hadn’t she shown up drunk at her job interview?).
There is also a love story in the book, which is pretty standard in chick-lit. Kate’s love interest was a nice, unassuming person with some good looks as well as a brain, so what else can a girl ask for?
This was a light read in some sense, but it also addressed deeper subjects, such as, what is Kate doing with her life, when are you an alcoholic, do you forsake a friendship only to get a job?
Questions asked by Mari of A Bookworm with a View
Mari- Kate doesn’t believe she has a drinking issue throughout most of the book and self-admits herself into rehab for a story. How did your opinion of Kate, and her eagerness to get a story, change from the first to last chapter of this book?
Judith- I thought Kate grew up a bit. Not a lot, but enough to be a stronger person. She also started to realise that maybe she did have a drinking problem. I especially liked it when she revealed the age at which she first started drinking and didn’t think anything of it until the therapist told her that wasn’t normal. She became more focused on her own rehabilitation and almost coincidentally became Amber’s friend. After she had already jeopardized one friendship for the magazine job, she was more careful in her friendship with Amber.
Mari- Faithfulness, Addiction and Trust are three important themes in the novel. Pick one and explore how this impacted Amber and Kate’s friendship.
Judith- Addiction: Kate’s addiction to alcohol was really an addiction to having a good time with friends but alcohol also helped her to get to sleep. Only when she didn’t get the job she really wanted, she realised that there was a (small) problem. Amber and Kate meet because of Amber’s addiction and Kate’s supposed addiction. This is one of the very few things they have in common. It wasn’t very handy that Amber invited Kate to a bar to meet her other friends after they got out of rehab. They should have spent some quiet time at each other’s houses rather than base the future of their friendship meeting in places where people are supposed to drink alcohol.
Mari- Kate was a horrible friend, sister, person at the beginning of the novel. At one point in the novel she says ‘she was going to write a book about a woman struggling to stay faithful.. after 30 pages she realized that she knew nothing about faithful love’. Do you think Kate is a better person at the end of the novel?
Judith- I think she’s a little bit better, but still has a lot to learn. She has realised the value of friendship, she’s a bit better at keeping a relationship (I think!) and if she can keep off the drink, she’ll have a much improved life, too. But if this was a real-life story, I don’t know how long the realisation would last that it was time to put her life in a different direction. She may try to better her life, find it difficult, and end up the same (or worse off) than before. I’m hopeful but not too hopeful.
Check out Mari’s review and her answers to my questions to her, here.