Relatively Normal

Fiction - Chick Lit
346 Pages
Reviewed on 09/15/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Relatively Normal is a contemporary humor novel written by Whitney Dineen. Jasmine and Catriona were the best of friends who had gone from being college chums to owning one of the most famed event planning companies in New York City. Now with Jazz about to marry her boyfriend, Dylan, Cat has some plans of her own for some light entertainment with one of the more attractive groomsmen in the bridal party. As she was wont to do, however, Cat tripped as she was reaching for a drink and toppled unceremoniously to the ground. One of Dylan’s friends, a tall, James Bond type with a sexy deep voice and impossibly green eyes was there to help her up and get her to a chair. He assiduously began helping ice her ankle for three hours during the event. From Cat’s perspective, he was a knight in shining armor and not bad to look at either. And while he didn’t exactly set her heart on fire, he was everything she could ask for in a prospective mate. But why then was she dreading bringing him -- and her prospective in-laws -- home to meet her dysfunctional family in Illinois?

Whitney Dineen’s contemporary humor novel, Relatively Normal, is a sheer delight to read. I loved getting to know Cat Masterton’s warm and quirky family and even looked up their family tartan on Google to see the admittedly garish pairings of bright yellow, green and red first-hand. Dineen’s story moves fluidly and smoothly, and her characters are so realistic I had to keep reminding myself that Relatively Normal was fiction and not a memoir. I watched as the Mastertons pulled their surprises on their beleaguered daughter and marvelled at the closeness and warmth that was theirs, dysfunctional or not. And I loved wondering whether Cat and Ethan ever would get married while admiring the latest costumes adorning her dad’s taxidermied collection of mice.

I’ve reviewed a number of Dineen’s books, including her middle-school book, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, and her memoir, Motherhood Martyrdom and Costco Runs, so I expected to have a grand time reading this offering. If anything, this exceeded my expectations. Relatively Normal is definitely not your normal story about in-laws and holidays -- it’s so much more. Relatively Normal is most highly recommended.

Justine Reyes

Readers won't find anything close to ordinary in Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen. We follow Catriona Masterson, a successful businesswoman who knows what she wants out of life. One of the things she wants more than anything is a man like Ethan Crenshaw, a reliable, predictable and boring sort. Ethan's appeal lies purely in Cat's idea of security in a relationship. However, when she takes Ethan and his parents to meet clan Masterson, things begin to spiral. What was once a seemingly well-balanced relationship starts to teeter as Cat's family and the Crenshaws don't quite see eye to eye; in fact, they seem to come from two different worlds altogether. To make things trickier, Cat's mother has invited over Sam Hawking, Cat's high school sweetheart and the one that got away.

I laughed, I squealed, and by the end of it, I was beyond satisfied with how much I enjoyed Relatively Normal. Each character was unique and so well thought out that they seemed almost real to me. Dineen is a master at humor and language. The way that Catriona narrated the story was so natural to me that I could not stop reading; it all flowed so well. I loved how each chapter had a unique title, as though they were short episodes for a sitcom. Relatively Normal is a fun, lighthearted read. It also has heartfelt moments which remind us all why family comes first. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of romantic comedies and to anyone looking for a good laugh.

Edith Wairimu

A witty and heart-warming chick lit novel, Whitney Dineen’s Relatively Normal is bound to capture the hearts of any lover of romance. Catriona Masterton is hesitant to introduce her calm and collected boyfriend, Ethan, to her family. As a matter of fact, anyone in her position would be more than anxious when considering such an event. With a plain-spoken grandmother stuck in the sixties’ fashion world, a father with a less than perfect gift in music and a doting mother with the weirdest of hobbies, Catriona dreads the meeting of her two worlds. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this time she cannot come up with a good enough reason to deter Ethan and save herself from the ordeal. Still, maybe this could be the trip that she really needs to put everything into perspective.

Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen is among the best chick lit novels that I have read so far. Not only did it give me a long hearty laugh on many occasions but the story also comes together splendidly. The unpredictable turns of the plot are adeptly created to grip the attention of any reader. Paired with the humor, the book makes for a must-read for any reader with an appreciation of romantic comedies. The characters are also designed to fit into their roles flawlessly. The contrast between the backgrounds, a small town and a sprawling city, further elevates the plot. A delightful read, definitely. I can’t wait to read more of Whitney Dineen’s work.