The Hannah Wears Michael Kors: A Review of When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
You want to know something about me? The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favorite movies. Every time I’m flipping through channels looking for something to watch and I stumble across this film, I will drop everything and watch it. It could be halfway over or just starting, but that doesn’t matter, I love it so much. It is truly an icon. If it is on, then don’t bother me. I have fallen off the face of the Earth for the next few hours. You could be dying, but I will not help you as my comfort film is on. Full disclosure though, I’ve never read the novel it’s based on. Still haven’t. But you know what I have read? When Life Give You Lululemons.
Lauren Weisberger’s 2018 novel was on sale and it was the perfect time to pick myself up a copy. So that’s what we’re reviewing today. Please give a warm welcome to When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger.
I know, I’m very late to the party, but I am fashionably late like Miranda Priestly.
Anyways, a spoiler alert is in order. I should also issue a content warning as there are discussions of infertility in this novel that are kinda hard to avoid although I won’t be discussing them in this review. Now onto the synopsis.
Emily Charlton has been riding high since leaving Runway. She has her own business as an image consultant to Hollywood’s hottest stars. Only one small problem: she’s losing all her clients to the newest image consultant even though this woman doesn’t hold a flame to Emily. Nevertheless, Emily needs a big opportunity and she needs it yesterday.
This is where former supermodel Karolina Hartwell comes in. She married Graham Hartwell who became a New York Senator, and let’s just say he sucks. One evening, Karolina is driving her son and his friends around town when she gets pulled over for drunk driving. Problem is, she wasn’t drinking. The world begins to tear Karolina apart for her DUI. Thankfully Emily is there for her, and with the help of their mutual friend Miriam, the trio organizes Karolina’s comeback and plan to get her son back.
I love a good revenge tale, and this is one I can really get behind. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say with certainty that every reader can get behind Karolina’s want for revenge. Her husband literally sets her up just so he can divorce her and not look like an asshole. Sorry, spoiler, but I did warn y’all. Anyway, I love the premise. There’s so much room for hijinks and badass “I am woman, hear me roar” moments that are only elevated by Lauren Weisberger’s wit and storytelling.
I have not read a book with this level of wit in a long time. The author clearly knows what she’s doing. Each of the three POV characters, Emily, Karolina, and Miriam, have distinct voices with distinct senses of humor; they all stand out in good and bad ways. Readers will not find a page missing quips that leave them gasping for air. This book just has a great sense of humor while still managing to be serious and tackle topics that are not often talked about in public.
I'm also was a huge fan of this book’s satire. It takes an upper-class suburban town and turns everything up to 100. There are the most over the top parties that range from swinger sex parties to toddler birthday parties that cost more than what most people make in a year. It’s truly bonkers, and I love it for that.
When Life Gives You Lululemons is masterfully written. From its humor to its pacing to its plot, readers will not find an issue with the writing save for two details. Yes, as much as I applaud this book I still have some glaring issues with it. Namely the way in which Karolina comes out on top.
As fans of The Devil Wears Prada know, Emily Charlton was once the assistant to the icon who is Miranda Priestly. When Life Gives You Lululemons is set years after the events of The Devil Wears Prada and its sequel, but Miranda still plays a big role in this novel. There are some major spoilers ahead so read at your own risk. I’ll put my favorite bears in to let you know it’s okay to resume reading.
Emily, as stated, is an image consultant working on Karolina’s comeback. Towards the end of the novel, after Emily has worked tirelessly on crafting Karolina’s new image and making the public like her again, Miranda Priestly learns of Emily’s triumph and requests a meeting with her. After this meeting, in order to get what she wants, Miranda meddles in Karolina’s case and blackmails Graham.
Now, Karolina comes out on top, which is great for her because every reader is rooting for her, but this leaves Emily in the dust. Karolina’s win technically puts Emily back on top of the image consulting world and she gets all her former clients back, but Emily is pretty much handed a big “F You” from Miranda. Emily is the one working hard revamping Karolina’s image and fighting with Graham while Miranda just swoops in right at the end to “save the day.” Emily gets the short end of the stick. She puts in all this work just to be screwed over and not get the win by herself. And then she gives her image consultant job up to become a mother and work for Miranda again.
The way this story ends is not the ending I see for Emily. She worked hard to get out from under Miranda, she’s a driven, ambitious woman with lofty desires and career goals. Giving everything up to be a mother is not the Emily I know!
Quick disclaimer, this is not me saying that a person’s life goals can’t change. I just hate the trope of “woman gives everything up to become a mother” cause that’s what Emily’s story comes across as. Had there been mentions of Emily wanting children or something along those lines prior to the end of the novel, her story would have worked better for me. But as it stands, Emily’s character does a sharp 180 and it really comes out of nowhere. Emily gets done dirty, and I am not here for this slander.
I’m also not here for the amount of body shaming this novel has. The world that is The Devil Wears Prada is chock-full of body shaming and fatphobia. That is a fact. It has always been that way ever since The Devil Wears Prada was published in 2003. Every woman in this series strives to be a size two, and is shammed by others for eating literally anything. Again, this is sadly a fact.
Now, 2003’s fashion industry did indeed perpetuate that idea. As we know, the original The Devil Wears Prada is set in the fashion world. The tall, thin, and tan supermodel was the ideal beauty standard of the time. It sucks, but that is true and sadly was the norm at the time so I can’t really fault The Devil Wears Prada for that issue since it was the norm back then. However, When Life Gives You Lululemons is set in 2018 in an upper-class suburb and revolves around young to middle-aged moms. While body shaming likely exists in this type of community, it is a near constant presence in this book and is highly problematic. There were too many times when one of the characters would talk about starving herself in order to be skinny. And for pages upon pages, this would be the only topic of conversation. It came up far too many times.
Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope. We don’t need this dated ideology and promotion of dangerous habits. I again must note that this book was written in 2018 and is set in the present day. I thought we as a society were past perpetuating the myth that one must be skinny in order to be pretty. Lauren Weisberger, do better! You are a great writer, but stop promoting these unhealthy habits. Seriously, you have a main character tell a five-year-old girl to drink diet Coke and chain smoke, what the hell.
For the most part, I had a grand ole time with this one. The humor was top tier! I would have liked it a lot more had the fatphobia and body shaming been turned down to nonexistent. It’s a still a great satire on the upper-class though. And with that, I shall bid you all adieu. I’ll see you all next week with another great review. I'm gonna go watch The Devil Wears Prada now.
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.