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Is This Bad Dialogue?- When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

June 22, 2018

When I first saw the book When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger, I didn’t know what Lululemon was.  I don’t like to start off a review by admitting that I didn’t know something that’s common knowledge, but I believe I should be upfront about these things.

Anyway, I was in the bookstore with my daughter while she was picking up books for her summer reading list (summer reading list, haha!).  As we stood in line, I dramatically read the titles of bestsellers that were propped near the entrance.  I admit, that sounds obnoxious of me, but I wasn’t loud.  With my quiet voice, only my daughter could hear, and it’s a parent’s job to be obnoxious to the kids in public.

The… President… Is… Missing” I said, trying to imitate a movie trailer professional.

She ignored me.

The… Out…Sider,” I said.


When… Life… Gives… You… Lululemons,” I said.

Still nothing.

“What… the… heck… is… a… lululemon?” I said, maintaining my movie trailer tone.

My daughter finally snickered at me.  “You’ve never heard of Lululemon?”  She was talking normally.

“I… have… NOT!”

“It’s a store… at the mall… and you walk past it all the time… when we go.  Are you okay?”

She asks me if I’m okay whenever she thinks my memory is getting bad.

“I’m fine,” I said.  “I’m pretty sure I’ve never known what Lululemon is.”

And that was it.  Since the book title caught my attention, I figured I’d give it a try.  I’m not sure the store Lululemon will be around in 20 years, but a lot of bestselling authors don’t care about stuff like that.  So far, When Life Gives You Lululemons is an easy novel to read, except for some of the dialogue.

Much of the dialogue in When Life Gives You Lululemons is in block paragraphs.  I don’t speak in block paragraphs, and the people I know don’t speak in block paragraphs.  We keep things brief.  Maybe there really are people who speak in block paragraphs.  To show you what I mean, here’s a scene where Emily (who I think is some kind of consultant for celebrities) finds out in a phone call that somebody else’s client has dressed like a Nazi at a public event and needs immediate advice.  Here’s a quick sample of dialogue starting with Emily:

“Okay, then right now I want you to text your colleague and have him get Rizzo into the men’s room and out of that getup.  I don’t care if he’s wearing a gold lame’ banana hammock, it’s better than the Nazi thing.”

“I already did that.  He gave Riz his button-down and shoes, confiscated the armband, and let him keep the trousers, which apparently are bright red.  It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do, especially since I can’t reach Rizzo directly.  But someone will post something any second, I’m sure.”

“Agreed.  So listen up.  Here’s the plan.  You’re going to jump in a cab and head over to 1 OAK and forcibly remove him.  Bring a girl or two, it’ll look better, and then get him back to his apartment and don’t let him leave.  Sit in front of the damn door if you have to.  Do you have his passwords?  Actually, forget it-just take his phone.  Drop it in the toilet.  We need to buy ourselves time without some idiotic tweet from him.”

The entire dialogue is a lot longer than this (a lot longer) and could have easily been cut by a few pages.  Do people really talk in block paragraphs?  Block paragraph dialogue sounds unnatural to me, but it could be my own experience.  If the rest of the book is like this, it would be a tough read for me.  But maybe it’s not so tough for the actresses and actors who’ll be in the movie.

To fix block paragraph dialogue, all you have to do is get rid of a bunch of unnecessary stuff.  If details like the red pants play a part in the story later, keep those references, but I bet most of those details don’t matter later on, so you can probably get rid of them.  And you don’t have to say “idiotic tweet” because the “idiotic” is implied when you say “tweet.”  Anyway, here’s my quick fix:

“Okay, get Rizzo out of that get up right now.”

“Done, but someone will post something any second.”

“Agreed, so here’s the plan.  Get him out of there and back to his apartment.  Bring a girl or two, and don’t let him leave.  Take his phone.  We need to buy ourselves some time without him tweeting.”

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe people really do talk in block paragraphs, and I’ve just never noticed.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, a few days ago I didn’t know what Lululemon was.


What do you think?  Do people really talk in block paragraphs? Or are long block paragraphs of dialogue a necessary evil?  If you think this was bad dialogue, what would you do to fix it?

  1. essaalroc permalink

    As far as I’m concerned, when you speak in block paragraphs, you’re trying to justify something – and people only try to justify things when they know they’ve done something wrong. Just my .02 but there’s never a reason for block paragraphs when you know you’re right.

    Also, I read this novel and the protagonist was just as annoying as she was in the Devil Wears Prada.

    • “Also, I read this novel and the protagonist was just as annoying as she was in the Devil Wears Prada.”-

      I’ve never read it. Did the characters speak in block paragraphs in that book too?

  2. People do speak in block paragraphs. Usually it’s either when the listener is either very interested in what the speaker has to say, or when the speaker is the kind of person who loves the sound of their own voice and wouldn’t let others to get even a word in.

    • “…or when the speaker is the kind of person who loves the sound of their own voice and wouldn’t let others to get even a word in.”

      That’s true. Maybe that’s what the author was going for. It seemed impractical, though, when it was important to do something quickly for the character to talk so much.

  3. I work at a bookstore and we sold out the day it came out. And it keeps selling out. I don’t know why. I didn’t care for the book and it wasn’t so much because of the block paragraphs I just didn’t interest me. I didn’t connect with any character, the plot felt forced. But who am i?

  4. I wouldn’t buy the book. It sounds like a lemon, er…lululemon

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