Confessions of a Shopaholic features Becky, or Rebecca Bloomwood, a 25-year-old financial journalist who never had a dream to be a financial journalist. But she has to find an income somehow. The thing is, it doesn't pay enough for her love of clothes and her unwillingness to save money. She can't resist a shirt and she can't resist getting the whole wardrobe to match it. She end up with about a 1,000 euro debt, which is about 1500 Canadian dollars and 1200 U.S. dollars if you want a bigger picture. (Now, the back of my copy pretty much gives away the entire book, or more likely spoils what goes on in about 80% of the main plotline so try to avoid it if you can.) So when the bills that stack up become too intimidating, she has to find a way to get the bills paid. But how can she do that?
So, am I a shopaholic? Not like Rebecca, I'm not. Primarily because clothes are very expensive with money I work too hard to want to spend, and I have a special set of shirts I really love and I don't usually have a need to add something new to my collection. That and I find a lot of boy's clothes boring. Oh my god, maybe I am a shopaholic. But I prefer the bookstore. Whenever I'm in a Chapters, every book in the Teen section dares me to read it. Any book you might pick up might end up changing your life or give you a spark of thought or suspense you never came across before. OR it might be the most boring valuable-time-destroyer you ever came across that isn't even good enough for charity. So thank goodness for libraries. In a library, I feel free to pick and choose without a sense of protecting my money. So because of my love of books, I partly related to Rebecca's shopping addiction.
Kinsella also has a way of writing that always keeps my attention (unlike when I'm actually in giant shops.) Maybe it's because it starts off with an enormous credit card bill right off the bat, or the fact I love the movie but this is a very easy book to read, even if you're in a slump. Sometimes the words get boring when she's typing up an article about finance...and she lets us know she knows it's boring too. Kinsella is a former financial journalist herself, and she uses her vocabulary quite intelligently.
One thing she also stealthily displays is that city folk live really impractical lives. When Rebecca is trying to cut back, she has to buy all sorts of appliances like a blender and kitchen knives. She also shows that city retail stores also need to update their customer service manuals. I've been working at a restaurant this summer, and there's not been one customer I've been rude to. I know this sounds lame, but one of my worst fears is making someone not enjoy coming to the restaurant. The people in this book are curt and loudly sigh and aren't afraid to show when they're having a bad day and take it out on Rebecca. One guy even causes Rebecca to wreck something that as a result she has to pay for. When that happened, I even growled.
But...damn when I say that ending was tremendously unimpressive. I looked up on Goodreads that there are about 8 books in this series, and they all have "Shopaholic" on them. The thing is, this doesn't feel like a start to a big series. I feel like it would make a good trilogy, but the idea of having a 25 year old being chased by credit card companies for her addiction to stores sounds like a lesson learning story that could only merit about 2 books or 3, and yet this has a fanbase title: "Shopaholic" at the same time that Kinsella has to brand. The ending is in my opinion the most important part of a book (if the beginning isn't soul-crushing boring) because the ending brings us to the finish line to see if our questions get answered, if characters get a commeupance, and it's usually the part we think about the most after we're done. There are three things I found wrong with it that I will leave in the final paragraph to avoid massive spoilers. *
There are also some times where it ends up a little too unbelievable, and a few times where you just want Rebecca tied up. There's a part of this book where she imagines winning the lottery, and it's kind of funny reading about her imagining it but c'mon. No one I've met is that gullible. There's also a scene where all she wants is a pair of pants and you just want to scream at the pages for her to get her mind off of them, because she has more important stuff to do. I can honestly say this is a guilty pleasure sort of book. There are books I've given higher grades to that have taken me longer to read. And I can honestly say this book put some strong emotions in me and some unforgettable moments, especially a phone call to Luke Brandon that is so empowering I wish I could be in a situation where I could be Rebecca and really show who's boss. What I mean is, this is a book that's great when it's good and a cringe-fest when it's bad.
* 1. Rebecca says Derek Smeath's been very nice to her, but I saw that as a swift attempt for sympathy and it didn't work for me.
2. All of a sudden, Luke Brandon is interested in Rebecca again, but I think they need more time to develop as friends and then a couple in future books, not go off on another date after everything that's happened.
3. Rebecca doesn't entirely tell the truth and doesn't compensate for it. She's also still a bit of a shopaholic, and that's another flaw, but not as much as the former.
Still, those flaws aside, I couldn't put the book down. I think this book is a real page-turner that could've been great had it been more polished like the shoes she loves so much.