This book was provided to me for free by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
When I first read The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger several years ago, I loved Andy Sachs…and kind of hated Emily Charlton. For those who have read The Devil Wears Prada, you probably understand. For those of you who haven’t, just imagine the most condescending, hateful coworker you have ever had…and multiply the negativity of their attitude by a thousand…and you have Emily Charlton. By the end of the book, she had grown on me, but she still wasn’t a character with whom I was very invested.
However, when I first heard about When Life Gives You Lululemons, I was intrigued by the idea of catching up with Emily in the years since her job at Runway and the events of The Devil Wears Prada. I have never read Revenge Wears Prada, the first follow-up to the original, but just as with the original, reading it is not necessary at all in order to enjoy When Life Gives You Lululemons.
When Life Gives You Lululemons focuses on the lives of three very different women. Emily Charlton, the notorious Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, is just as feisty as ever, but at 36-years-old, married, and a successful crisis handler and stylist for big-name celebrities, she has finally gotten out from under the influence of her former boss, Miranda Priestly. When a new, social-media savvy competitor starts stealing her clients and with her husband away on business, she finds herself licking her wounds at the Hamptons home of an old friend–high-powered lawyer-turned-housewife and stay-at-home-mom, Miriam. In the midst of everything, Miriam’s friend, a former supermodel named Karolina, is arrested for drunk driving with her 12-year-old son and his friends in the vehicle. The three women come together in a quest to find answers about what happened that night and develop meaningful relationships with one another as a result.
As a girl who has spent her entire life in rural Kentucky, the life described in When Life Gives You Lululemons is very foreign to me. In fact, the nearest place where one can even buy Lululemon clothing is two hours away, and the nearest Starbucks is several towns over. I don’t have any friends who go to spin class, I only know one person who drives a Range Rover, and I can almost guarantee that no one I know had an account that was revealed by AshleyMadison.com. Throughout When Life Gives You Lululemons, the superficiality of the lives of the characters is a prominent theme, and I definitely could not relate to the struggles of having a house that is TOO big or discovering an $1100 charge for a throw blanket on a credit card statement (I mean, that’s more than most house payments where I live). However, Laura Weisberger highlights many issues that are common, regardless of where a person is from or how much money he or she has to spend.
Through the alternating chapters that focus on each of the three primary characters of Emily, Miriam, and Karolina, Weisberger enables readers to see that women today face the same pressures to be perfect wives, perfect mothers, and perfect human beings in general. Miriam’s conflicting feelings about being a stay-at-home mom after having such a successful law career, Emily’s struggle with getting older and the competitive nature of her job, and Karolina’s journey through the grief of losing her marriage, her son, and her reputation are all things that are relatable to everyone, whether living in New York City or a town in Kentucky with only four stoplights. One of the things that Weisberger does best in When Life Gives You Lululemons is showing readers that we are all connected by the same pressures of marriage, motherhood, or careers. Through the bonds formed by Emily, Miriam, and Karolina, Weisberger also shows that although the specifics of our experiences are different, authentic friendships with people who are not afraid to be honest while also being supportive are what sustain us through difficult moments and support us through celebratory ones as well.
Don’t let my assessment fool you, however. When Life Gives You Lululemons is not dripping with saccharine and motivational statements. This is a book full of spunk, sharp criticisms of superficiality, and unabashed truths about how life changes after having children. There are scenes where women who are generally well-put-together throw up on themselves (and their friends), bleed through their pajama pants, and eat their children’s leftover macaroni and cheese. There are marriages that implode, explode, and thrive. There are children who throw tantrums, get in trouble, and ask for snuggles before bed. And there are a lot of laughs…primarily courtesy of Emily and her sass.
Don’t expect this book to provide you with profound insights into life. Instead, expect it to provide you with an entertaining way to pass your time, a few new insights into the lives of the elite, and solid prose that helps fun characters come to life.