Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.
Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.
*Thank you to the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
My curiosity got the better of me when I requested for this book. The title looks so intriguing–Crimes Against a Book Club–I just can’t pass the opportunity to read it. And I’m glad I did because oh, boy, this book is hilarious. A laugh out loud story of Annie and Sarah who have been best friends since they were in college. They are the opposite of each other in so many ways but their love for books sealed their friendship. Annie is a chemist on break at work after giving birth to her youngest daughter. Her son, Oscar, was just diagnosed with autism. She will need a huge amount of money for his therapy and maybe there will be hope for her four-year-old. Annie is a new member of the La Jolla Book Club which consists of wealthy wives from La Jolla. Only, the book club doesn’t talk much about books, it looks like they are more interested in gossiping instead. Sarah, on the other hand, is an overworked lawyer. She and her husband have been trying to get pregnant without any success, even IVF doesn’t work. It’s no wonder because she’s always stressed with her job. She has a slave driver for a boss who’s constantly asking more of her time. Fed up with how he’s treating her, she quit her job on the spot and never look back. But now, she has to hold off her IVF treatments because although her job was paying her big bucks, it never occurred to her to save at all. Annie then convinced her friend in putting up a business–selling overpriced anti-aging cream to the ladies at La Jolla Book Club. Sarah will be the face of the business since, at the age of 40, she still looks so young and beautiful, while Annie, with her knowledge, will formulate the products. It looks like a harmless plan, aside from the fact that the cream doesn’t actually work. Annie reasoned that they are going to sell it to women who have too much money they don’t even know what to do with it, anyway. Only, no matter what tweaks Annie do, the cream doesn’t do anything special that will keep the women from buying. Besides, she feels guilty selling them an expensive cream that doesn’t have any effects at all. She needs to at least make them believe that their product is unlike any other expensive brands out there. And so, she added something that seems to give the desired effect she’s been hoping for. Viola! Their business is booming. But the thing is, all will be for nothing if someone finds out what Annie added to the mix. Because her special ingredient is something very illegal and will surely get her to jail.
I really like the premise of this one. Just light and fun and nothing too dramatic. Of course, the problems and issues every character goes through in the story are serious and some are so relatable but I like how things are address in a humorous way. It is nice to read how some people face their problems and still managed to laugh about it. I kinda admire the way Sarah and Annie deal with their problems, they never lose hope. They used the available tools and the talent that they have. I know it’s a scam and I’m not okay with people doing the same thing. I just like their approach, is all. Their friendship is also commendable. I love how they are with each other, best friend forever it is. Between the two, I like Sarah more. She’s not only smart but also compassionate. She may be tricking women into buying über expensive beauty creams but she still cares about them, at least for some. Annie, not so much, she can even be judgmental at times, especially to her rich co-members at the book club. And for someone smart, she sure made some questionable decisions and did dumb stuff that made her annoying.
I especially enjoyed reading not only about Sarah and Annie but also the La Jolla ladies. They are a riot and how they interact with each other is really entertaining to read. They are dealing with their own issues as well, mostly looking younger so that their husbands won’t leave them. It’s crazy to see what those women are willing to do or how much they shed just to look young and beautiful. Hence, the need for the anti-aging cream, Etinav, which is a play on the French word vanité. Clever, eh? The story was told from multiple POVs which can be confusing but I’d say it actually works with this one as it gives an amusing yet somehow realistic perspective on rich people problems. Aside from Annie and Sarah, there are bits of narrative from some ladies of La Jolla, too, such as:
Valerie, the divorcee, left by her husband for a much younger girl, Crystal, who also happens to be a member of the book club.
There’s Kim, an ex-teacher who lacks confidence and feels so uncomfortable with their newly-found wealth. Her husband made tons of money on his start-up business and is always trying to keep up with his rich friends. Sadly, it is starting to affect their marriage.
And finally, there is Natalie. Her husband’s business is going down and everyone knows about it. Everyone but her. Because of this, her friends started shunning her. Not because they don’t like her but because they feel sorry for her and doesn’t know how to face her knowing she’ll be bankrupt soon.
Another character worth mentioning is Chloe, Annie’s theater actress mom whom she claimed to not be a good mother but eventually played a major role towards the end. And speaking of ending, it is outrageously unrealistic and convenient but considering how the story was narrated, I guess that’s quite acceptable to give it a hysterical ending.
Crimes Against a Book Club is a well-written debut novel, light, witty, funny, and overall, a hilarious and enjoyable read. With strong, interesting female characters dealing with different struggles that most women can relate to. Not only the struggle of looking young, but also of being a wife, a mother, infertility, lack of self-esteem, financial problem and a lot more. And though they are depicted lightly in the story, it doesn’t take away the importance and seriousness of the situations. This book is perfect for chick-lit lovers and those who are in need of a good laugh.