Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sonia Bevelin Reviews Men’s Guide…

Jo Barrett
The Men's Guide to the Women’s Bathroom
Published by arrangement of AVON
USA 2007

I read Jo Barrett's book in 2 days and I think that says a lot about how I feel about this book, it's a true "can't put down" kind of read.

It tells the story about Claire St John who moved from her hectic life as a lawyer in New York city to Austin, Texas. We first get introduced to Claire when she's on a diving course for newly divorced singles and she's in the bathroom nursing a nosebleed. She is now determined to change her way of life and write a book. "Write about what I know" is her approach to this book and she chooses to write about the secrets of the women’s bathroom and all that happens in there that men have no idea about. We get to follow her ups and downs as well as how her relationship with the handsome Jake evolves. The suspense of the novel grew when someone overheard Claire having a private conversation in the bathroom. The best part of the book is some of the excerpts of the book Claire is working on that we get to share. When Claire gets down she picks herself up because this is the "year of Claire", and in the end she might not always be as strong as she would like to be, but then again, things don't always turn out as you think.

Many of the advice and stories are real stories and as Jo tells us in the prologue "I spent an extra ordinary amount of time in women's bathrooms researching for this novel". The issues raised in this novel are many things we all been through in some sense and I think that the author has taken true stories but made up the characters and some details. A lot of these things are in fact things a lot of us have been through once or twice and this novel is very easy to relate to and I think that is what makes it so great. It's funnier because you know the feelings; it's more of an "OH NO YOU DIDN'T" moment because you have been there, done that.
I think the author wrote this book because just like Claire, she's writing about what she knows. It's clear that she likes being a woman and celebrates it and she gets into the mind of women. This book handles themes such as love and personal growth but also what it truly means being a woman. The whole book isn't supposed to be taken too seriously. I think that the author doesn't want us to have to dig too deep in ourselves to recognize what she's writing about.

I also believe she truly wants men to have a little more of a clue (because you think you know, but you are clueless) about this hidden world of women’s bathrooms. For me, I already know what happens in there and I could relate to many of the examples she gave. In her book excerpt she describes different kind of personalities we might run into in the bathroom. We have all met one or two of these bathroom personalities as she describes in our life. I think she gives a fair portrait of the hidden world of the women’s bathrooms. She mentions how we girls always go in pairs to the bathroom, inviting our friends with us so we can discuss what we think of our friends new boyfriend. In this book Jo invites the men into these conversations, and into the women’s bathroom.

Jo is also excellent at painting a picture for the reader. As I read it I found the story to be very three dimensional. When I wasn't reading it I kept thinking in my mind that I wanted to continue watching the movie, until I realized it was in fact this book I wanted to finish reading. The dialogue is brilliant in expressing both Claire's and Jo's incredible wit and sharp tongue and I love it how Claire catches herself saying the wrong thing and not thinking before speaking and then correcting it in her mind, mortified. We have all done this more then once, especially talking to that cute guy we like.

Jo also throws in a couple of great sayings like "Kate moss style nosebleed". I just want to use these sayings all the time, they are just so original and funny. The only critique I would give is that the book isn't long enough because I could have continued reading more and I was looking forward to more of the excerpts of Claire book and what more tales from the toilets she has to tell. I can't even describe how funny when she gives the examples of different things that happen to us in the bathroom that we would never tell you men, it's hilarious, and HAS to be read.

Jo is a new writer on the scene but I really hope we will hear more from her because this book is a guaranteed success if anyone just feels half as thrilled as I did when reading this book. I just wanted to tell everyone about this book and how true and funny it was. Because let's face it, this idea is brilliant.

I would recommend this book to every girl out there because you will laugh out loud and find your own "Claire" and to every guy so you will get some knowledge about the women’s bathroom and to our secrets. I'm just thinking, can guys handle this information? Jo's book is funny, and sexy page by page, but engrossing throughout.

A review by Sonia Bevelin, Sweden.