If You Were Here

If You Were Here

by Jen Lancaster

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Overview

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The fiction debut of the New York Times bestselling author of My Fair Lazy.

Told in the uproariously entertaining voice readers have come to expect from Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451236685
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/06/2012
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,218,577
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jen Lancaster is the author of Bitter is the New Black. She has lived in Chicago for ten years with her husband and pets, and has yet to get the hang of the subway or returning library books in a timely manner. Visit www.jennsylvania.com

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Told in the uproariously entertaining voice readers have come to expect from Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen-romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying—but always funny—process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex-landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings—with Mac taking on the renovations himself—Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

 


ABOUT JEN LANCASTER

Jen Lancaster is the author of Bitter is the New Black. She has lived in Chicago for ten years with her husband and pets, and has yet to get the hang of the subway or returning library books in a timely manner.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • What scene was the easiest to visualize or was the most memorable?
  • Discuss the significance of why it was so important to Mia to buy that specific home. Did she make the right choice? Why or why not?
  • What are Mia's strengths and weaknesses, and with which do you most identify?
  • How did Mia and Mac's relationship change as they faced adversity? What advice would you give them as a couple going forward?
  • How would you describe Mia's relationship with her grandmother?
  • Who was you favorite character? And given the choice, which one would you most like to meet?
  • Mia's life was profoundly influenced by John Hughes. Who has had a similar influence in your own life?
  • If you've read Jen Lancaster's memoirs, what similarities and differences do you see between Jen and Mia?
  • Mia relies heavily on support and advice from her friends. How do you relate to your own circle of friends?

Customer Reviews

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If You Were Here 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you read Jen Lancaster's books, then you will know that her footnotes are one of the funnest parts. But in the noon format? Yeah, they aren't at the bottom of each page. So unless you want to constantly scroll to the very back of the book every couple of sentences, you are going to miss out on her extra little funny insights. The book itself is a fun read. Not her best, but still entertaining.
Jennifer Kassel More than 1 year ago
I love Jen and all her books. This was a great read. Easy, quick and fun. Footnotes are great and i got used to tapping on the footnote that brought me to the back of the book then i just hit it again and i was back to reading. Really no big deal. I Can't wait for the next book and in the meantime I enjoy her website and facebook posts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of Jen Lancaster and have read her blogs and follow her on twitter, then you have already read this book. Like another reviewer said, I was hoping for a fiction book from Jen Lancaster, but instead got 'the best of her blog' and the names were changed. Example - the main characters have two rescue dogs and one is a pit bull named Daisy. Come on! Couldn't she be a little more creative? (Jen Lancaster had two dogs while writing this book, one is a pit bull named Maisy). If she can't come up with new material to write about, she should stick to just blogging.
mcelhra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mac and Mia are tired of the graffiti artist thugs in the neighborhood in which they rent their house. They decide it's time to take the plunge and buy a house in the Chicago suburbs. And not just any suburb in Chicago - they want to move to the suburb that John Hughes used for his movies' settings. They look at several homes but can't find their dream house. Instead they buy a fixer-upper that will test their home improvement knowledge and their marriage.I love Jen Lancaster. Because I've read all her memoirs and follow her blog, I feel like we're friends. (Don't worry, I'm not a crazy stalker!) If You Were Here is her first work of fiction but it's actually a thinly disguised memoir, in my opinion. Mac and Mia are Jen and Fletch. Some zany things happen to Mac and Mia that wouldn't happen to Jen and Fletch in real life but their personalities are the same. This didn't bother me but I think that if you aren't a Jen Lancaster fan already, you may not connect with this book as much as I did.Some of the dialogue was stilted and some of the explanations of home-buying terms sounded too much like a real estate manual. However, the story was amusing and engaging. This would be a great beach read.This book has tons of footnotes just like Jen's other books so I'm not sure if it would be good to read on an e-reader.
kindergirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So much fun to read. I related somewhat to what was going on in the book, since I'm in the middle of renovating our house as well. Thankfully, I don't have Mia's problems! I was thrown when I first started reading this though - I brought it home without reading anything about it - just saw Jen's name on the front, and knew I'd be entertained by it. Two pages in, I was saying to myself, - "what happened to Fletch, and how did I miss a divorce and a new spouse?" I stopped and read the inside front cover, and began again with a fresh perspective - this is not a Jen Lancaster memoir - but it reads like one. In fact, I forgot most of the time that this is fiction, and did not, in fact, happen to Jen. Still has her funny footnotes, sarcasm, and quick wit. ANyone who loves her memoirs will love this just as much.
onetiredmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jen Lancaster usually writes humorous memoirs about her life with her husband and dogs, her family and friends. This is her first foray into writing fiction. Turns out it is a thinly-disguised story about her life with her husband and dogs, her family and friends. To be fair, I haven't read any of her other books and they are supposed to be quite good, or at least some of them are. She wrote Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy, along with a few others. Her style of writing would work better in memoirs. Fiction needs a much stronger plot. It started off okay in a lightweight summer beach read sort of way. Mia, a writer of teenage Amish romance novels, and her husband Mac are fed up with their city neighborhood and go looking in the Chicago suburbs for a house to buy, one that they can use the skills they learned from watching HGTV. Mia finds the perfect house, one used in the movie Sixteen Candles, a film by John Hughes whose films she adores. She grew up longing to live in the homes she saw in his films. The house turns out to be more work than they thought it would be. The book is filled with pop culture references and sarcastic asides (mostly in footnotes) which are funny sometimes although I wonder how many of them most readers would get. There are many references to HGTV programs and John Hughes movies but also to the movie Mean Girls and Stephenie Meyers and Mr. T and Charles in Charge and so on and so on, so many that the weight of them was just too much for the weak plot that it eventually fell in on itself, just like the floor did in the book under the weight of the dropped toilet. Things I liked about it: It really was funny in parts. It's also exciting in a way when you "get" a cultural reference. Makes me feel like part of a club or something. Things I did not like about it: The thin plot combined with the overuse of footnotes and pop culture and too much cutesiness (the landlord was a trust-fund 20-something named Vienna Hyatt) got to be too much for me. Another issue for me was the excessive profanity. Would I recommend it? No, not really. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
tipsister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For those who read my blog (anyone?), you'll know that I am a big fan of Jen's. I'll read pretty much anything she writes, from her memoirs, to her blog, to her Twitter feed. I jumped right into If You Were Here, right after it was released (I'm just late with the review). This is Jen's first novel and it is just a ton of fun. Mac and Mia buy a house. Not just any house, Jake Ryan's house. If you are around my age and female, your heart gave a little thump at the mention of Jake's name. Right? Mac and Mia buy the house used in the movie Sixteen Candles. Unfortunately the house has seen better days and can use some help. It does have a panic room so that's a bonus.The story is about a couple, a house, and their attempts to make it a home. Anyone who has done construction on a home knows the things that can go wrong and in this book, it all goes wrong. If You Were Here, is not a literary masterpiece but it's a hilarious look at real people and real situations. It's typical Jen and if you love her, you'll love this. It will make you laugh.
bookappeal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mia and Mac buy a money pit mansion in an upscale neighborhood for sentimental, John Hughes-related, nostalgic reasons and remodeling threatens to destroy their marriage. Readers familiar with the "joys" of remodeling will laugh-out-loud (or possibly cry) but non-DIYers may wonder why Mac & Mia don't cut their losses and get out before this house ruins their lives.
jheady1021 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love all of Jen's books, but I have to say that this one was my least favorite. Please go back to memoir writing, Jen.
TBRetc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I gotta hand it to Jen Lancaster for writing a book of fiction! I loved her memoirs, but had a feeling that she would eventually run out of different ways to talk about her dogs, husband, weight, and life*.This story is about Mac and Mia, who buy the actual house used as Jake Ryans house in Sixteen Candles. I thought this story was very funny. Her sarcasm and humor are still there, and at times I forgot that this is fiction and was not her actual experience with moving to the suburbs. Probably not my favorite book she's written (Gotta give that to the original Bitter), but a very good start on what will hopefully be a long career writing fiction!*But here's hoping she thinks of others!
emigre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny look at how home renovation is always much more time-consuming and complicated than what one planned.
CDianeK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I adore Jen Lancaster's memoirs. Their style; fast-paced and loaded with laugh out loud funny bits and pop culture references galore, is, in my reading experience, hers alone. But it became tedious when not spaced out, as I discovered when I caught up on her work a couple of years ago. They are much, much more palatable spaced out - say, if they're snapped up and devoured as soon as they're released, as I've done her last two books. That much space between them is perfect, and when I recommend her books - and I ALWAYS recommend her books - I tell people this.Jen enters fiction territory with If You Were Here. Except not really. This is not a bad thing; her protagonists, Mia and Mac, are Jen and Fletch. There was no way for me to separate Mia and Mac from Jen and Fletch. The fiction part came in handy with the outrageous and sometimes absurd adventures in buying and "rehabbing" a house in the Chicago suburbs, while Mia is trying to put out the next novel in her YA series about Amish zombies. The supporting characters are fantastic, though thinly veiled, and fit perfectly - as they should - into Mia's and Mac's world.Some may not like the complete lack of departure from her memoirs, but I adored this book, and continue to be a huge fan. It got me through a hellish all-night bout of insomnia - and was a quick read under those circumstances. My only quibble is that the footnotes - hilarious though they were - seemed out of place in a novel. They didn't transfer well to me. But otherwise, I remain a huge, huge fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good for a first foray into fiction writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Jen Lancaster. Looking forward to next release.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Hughes - excellent memories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
catgurrrl More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I also loved the references to John Hughes. It was an enertaining read and I was sad when I finished the book.
Esme1952 More than 1 year ago
Lancaster goes for the juggler with satire, comedy, and downhome honesty. I laughed and was in awe of the situations that unfold in this story. It's a wonderful weekend read, or take it to the beach curled up in a blanket, it will keep you warm. Terrific story and wonderful characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I didn't think I would like this book. After forcing myself to get into it, (even became a fan of the hysterical foot notes) it was very funny and an easy read. I finished it in two days and would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not a bad read for her first try at fiction!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jodi_Ann_Hanson More than 1 year ago
This book had me actually laughing out loud, as Jen Lancaster entertains her reader with the antics of her protagonist Mia and her hubby Mac. Mia is an author of a series of “Amish Zombie” novels who—along with her husband—lives in a rental home with their menagerie of pets. The home is in a less than desirable section of town but the rent won out over their better judgment. Thus, they find themselves in the middle of a throw down with a thug who tags everything in the neighborhood, including a church across from their home. After the thug “ORNESTEGA” retaliates against the couple by throwing a firebomb at the house, they finally throw in the towel and start the search to buy a home in the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. During the search for a new property, the owner of the rental house, Vienna Hyatt has taken any opportunity available to make the MacNamara’s lives miserable, threatening to sue them for a window broken by the firebomb and the video leaked by a team of packers who observed the celebrity go off on them. Eventually the MacNamara’s find the perfect home and put an offer on it. The place was featured in “The Breakfast Club” which happens to be the couple’s favorite movie. The house is in deplorable condition and turns out to be a money pit. Through many failed attempts at DIY home renovations, the couple resorts to hiring a contractor, which proves to be easier said than done. With her fifth book, Jen Lancaster has created a hilarious romp through the hazard stricken lives of Mia and Mac. Jen incorporates little tidbits that are added commentary Mia adds in the telling of her story. Her characters are definitely the “Laurel and Hardy” of the renovation circuit, leaving the reader thinking of the mishaps they have experienced in their DIY foray. If you want to find yourself laughing at the end of a long day this is the book you should be picking up. Reviewed for Suspense Magazine
LC112648LC More than 1 year ago
I normally love Jen's books. This one I started twice and it just couldn't hold my attention. Also, I find the footnote distracting and irritating. I will buy other books and hope they're better!!!!!