Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Sister Did Finish 50 Shades of Grey, and wrote this hysterical review

There are many benefits to having sisters - triple the wardrobe (in my case because I have three, yes, three sisters), built-in bridesmaids, and, in the case of today's post, someone to finish 50 Shades of Grey for you, and write a hysterical review. 
Below, because I stubbornly swore I wouldn't finish it, is my sister Dani's review. Don't judge her for making it to the end. She's a fast reader with zero commitment issues. She doesn't start things without finishing them...even - spoiler alert - if she doesn't like them...

(note: she picked that genius picture)

I am an avid reader. I pretend to hold myself to some literary standard (only one Jodi Picoult book per season), but I get behind most of the popular series that come across the shelves. When 50 Shades of Grey came along, I would be lying if I didn’t say I was intrigued. 
Although I read a lot, my current status as a graduate student keeps me about a full semester behind the curve on new and exciting books. I heard about 50 Shades long before I had the free time to read it. The hype was building, fast. I decided pretty early on that it wasn’t for me. I have never read a standard romance , I even sped through some of the incredibly tame sex scenes in The Other Boleyn Girl. I rolled my eyes at the hundreds of Facebook posts and “news” articles about 50 Shades and the life changing effect it was having on women around the country.

Then three weeks ago, everything changed. I moved to a new city for a summer internship, eager to spend much of my free time reading in the summer sun. On my first night, I met up with some friends for a birthday margarita. We, inevitably, started talking about 50 Shades
The other ladies mentioned that they were starting a book club and, naturally, 50 Shades was the first book on their list. They explained their perspectives about the book, the love story, the actual presence of sex. Frankly, I stopped listening when they said book club! I was in. I have always want to be in a book club, and aside from a short stint with one in college (it was for credit but there was always wine), I have been looking to fill the void of literary conversation in my life for many years. So I agreed to read the first book, and we planned our inaugural meeting.

I started the book the next day. Because of waning interest and the pressures of keeping a full social calendar when you are new in town, it took me about a week to finish. The following is my take on a few different elements.

CAUTION: This section will contain spoilers!
1.     Everyone in this book needs much more therapy than they are currently getting.

There is sporadic reference to the fact that Christian is in therapy, but everyone in this book should be in therapy! Christian, I hope, is working through some of his issues including his inability to be physically touched. Ana has got some intense abandonment issues stemming from her cycle of father figures and strained relationship with her mom. Mom has had four husbands and doesn’t seem that concerned about her 22 year old daughter (I’m sorry but it’s weird that she didn’t come to her college graduation). Kate is one of the most self-centered people I have ever known (read about). The list goes on.  
2.     Ana needs more and better friends.
I admit that I am incredibly lucky to have some of the most wonderful friends in the world. It was a huge leap of faith for me to believe that my roommate and best friend would not be more alarmed at an incredible increase in crying coming from someone who “never cries”. I would also expect my best friend and roommate not to be distracted by a simple question about her day when I was just given a brand new $60,000 car by a man that I barely know. This fictional relationship was really only made possible by Ana’s lame ass friends. They were not even paying attention to the gorilla sized red flags that Ana is flying for help and support.

3.     Some things need to stay in the bedroom and don’t need to be found on the NYT Best Sellers List.  
I am all for alternative lifestyles. I support the HRC and I love TLC’s “Sister Wives”, but some things need to stay in the bedroom. I find it pretty hard to believe that this book is saving as many marriages as the “news” is claiming. This book is not about how to communicate with your loved one about your wishes or needs in the bedroom. It’s not about opening the lines of communication about the importance of a physical relationship in your marriage or partnership. It’s about a formally abused child who grows up to be a man that likes S&M and how he convinces an innocent and na├»ve girl to participate. There is nothing about this book that can be used to better the relationships of American couples, unless most American families have the space, money, and desire to create a sex playground in their homes 

4. The cliff hanger is actually not a cliff hanger at all.   

Although the book was a page turner at times, and the dynamics of the relationship between Ana and Christian is interesting, I’m not going to read the next two books because the end was not really a cliff hanger. I am assuming (with 75% confidence) that the next two books are about Ana and Christian and frankly the author didn’t do a good enough job convincing me that I care.

The Cliffs Notes version of my review: I understand why this book is a NYT Best Seller. If a book gets enough hype people will read it regardless of actual quality. I’m glad I read it because it’s “what’s happening” and the “love” story had some interesting twists and turns. Was it the best book I’ve ever read? No. Did reading it change my life? No. Was it the worst book I’ve ever read? Also no. I didn’t learn anything about how to improve my relationship. I didn’t feel that it was a testament to broader societal pressures on woman to bend to the will of a man.  It’s just a sexy book that is pushing the limits of what is literature and what is porn.

The book is 50% intense sex scenes, 30% dramatic inner dialogue, and 20% plot. If you are intrigued read it, but not you Mom!


  1. I love that you feel the need to explain why it took a full week to read. Spoken like a true bookophile.

  2. Thanks for your report. I am NOT a reader but have heard so much about this book that i wondered what all the women were talking about. ( i am a married man) I have been thumbing threw it trying to find some "Love story and Romance" it it, without luck.
    I love my wife the way she is and dont want her becoming a S&M freek so i will toss this out tomorrow and move on with our life.

  3. The movie is, while a bit twisted because it is really a "S M man who invites a naive girl into his world", and he is damaged goods, is really 9 and a 1/2 weeks all over for the new audience.

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