Monday, April 7, 2008

Book 45 of 52: LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin

I have never been to the Hamptons, but I get exactly what Sherri Rifkin is writing about in LoveHampton. Because if you change "Hampton" to "Avalon" and you've got your typical summer rental at the Jersey shore.

If you haven't noticed, I wrote a book about the South Jersey Shorethat's coming out in less than a month. I did most of my research last summer while living in Avalon, NJ, with about a dozen complete strangers. Most were in their 30s, and most acted like college kids on the weekends. It was fun, it was exhausting, but it was nothing short of a wild ride, especially while trying to write a book at the same time.

LoveHampton is about essentially the same setup albeit on a higher price scale (the main character pays $7,500 for her summer share. I paid far less than half of that for mine).

In this Miller's story -- that being Tori Miller of the book, not me -- she's bouncing back from a major slide that started when her perfect boyfriend dumped her. So for two years, she wandered around in the worst possible fashion (Old Navy cargo pants. Gasp!) and spent more time in front of the TV than actually trying to replace said perfect boyfriend. She's then used as fodder for the pilot of a Queer Eye-esque makeover show that's never supposed to air. They help her get enough guts (plus free clothes, makeup and hairstyle) to go ahead and give it a go in a Hamptons summer share. Her reaction to all that booze and boys is not what she expected -- she's Tori at home and becomes Miller at the Hamptons. Reconciling the two isn't exactly easy.

Of course there's romance, friendship and backstabbing, but that's part of the fun, which is why I read this as a potential beach book. Mark this one as a little silly and predictable but entertaining -- and a quick read to boot.

So how did I pick this out of the stack of 70 sitting in my living room? Because the book opens with the Summer House Guidelines, and it was enough to make me laugh, and keep going. Examples:

"You will not be refunded for unused time, so like they say about the FLEX plan, use it or lose it."

"Please keep common areas neat and clean up after yourself. It shouldn't be that hard to put your glasses and dishes in the dishwasher."

"If you see that we're running low on anything, please write it down on the list I will be posting on the refrigerator. NB: Food, alcohol and Red Bull are not included."

The unwritten rules, which are used throughout the book, are right on, too, like about not hooking up with roommates until after August 1 for fear of messing up house dynamics. Does everyone adhere to these rules? Not really. I know of three pairs that broke it in my house share (guilty as charged). And not every followed that dish rule. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if anyone did.

I was in a good house, though. Everyone was kind and friendly, and even though I knew no one going in, I was included in all the parties and events. I still talk to a lot of people in the house now, and rely heavily on one for article sources (hi Courtney!)

I can't say I totally transformed from Jen into Miller while part of my Avalon shore house, but I was more relaxed there and probably more outgoing because, to just about everyone, I was new and could start new. I was ready to go back home by September, though. A gal can only 'pre-game' so much. Here's the bar:



And that's on a low night. I hadn't seen that much alcohol in one place since college -- and that's not even counting what was in the fridge. Fun, but tiring (which is why I'm still not sure if I'll go in on a house this summer. We'll see...)

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