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Hand-Me-Down    by Lee Nichols order for
by Lee Nichols
Order:  USA  Can
Red Dress Ink, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Anne Olsen, the youngest of three daughters, lives in the shadows of her two sisters, Emily and Charlotte (all three were named for the Brontes). Twenty-nine year old Anne works as an office manager for her boyfriend Rip in his real estate office. Though her duties are secretarial, Rip, who loves and dotes on Anne, gives her a glorified title to appease her. While Anne feels affection for Rip, the spark of love is not there and the thought of settling down, getting married and having kids with Rip gives her the chills (in a bad way).

Essentially, Anne is plodding along in life. While she is not particularly unhappy, she is not happy either especially when she examines the lives of her sisters. Charlotte, the eldest, is a world-famous swimsuit supermodel who is now wealthy and happily married with three beautiful children. Due to her fame, she cannot walk in public without being swarmed by fans. It annoys Anne that she can't even hate Charlotte because not only is she breathtakingly beautiful, she's also one of the kindest and most genuine women around.

Then there is the fiery and deeply intellectual Emily, who found fame via her first book, Porn Is Film (the concept bores Anne and is over her head). But even though Anne is not on Emily's intellectual level, others are. The book is a highly acclaimed bestseller. To put the icing on the cake, Emily is also happily married and has a child.

While Anne is not jealous of her sisters' 'marriage and kids lifestyle', she does envy their success and feels smothered by Rip. Anne is experiencing what she refers to as 'VD Vague Dissatisfaction' with life and wants to carve out success on her own terms. When Ian, Charlotte's ex-boyfriend from high school (also Anne's unrequited girlhood crush), makes a sudden appearance in her life, Anne wonders whether she could possibly fall for her sister's 'hand-me-down boyfriend.'

This is a funny story of love, success, family and Anne's self-discovery as she makes her way in life and finds true love. While I found it a bit long in the tooth midway through, the book is still a very enjoyable read. Nichols creates interesting, bright characters and I recommend Hand-Me-Down to chick lit fans as a laugh out loud funny read.

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