As much as I love it, the First Wives Club needs to be nominated. Breaking and Entering, Kidnapping, Extortion, etc.
I nominate that and all the copy cat books since.
I love the story line of having the wake-up call that you have fallen into a rut and need to take drastic measures so your life doesn't suck. I feel like I have resembled that plot over and over. But I am really uncomfortable when:
1) The whole "I realized my life stinks" story line is driven by a relationship
ending. Because life is good as long as your man loves you? It's hard for me to swallow that a fun, likable, strong woman wouldn't notice that her life was going down the drain before it hits the point of no return. Most of the time these books involve the woman thinking, "Oh yeah, I was a slave, drudge and martyr and liked it as long as he was there." Annoying.
2) Lots of the blame gets put on the younger model. I'm not condoning running around with a married man. But there are often strong implications that if a man leaves for another woman, the other woman is a skank, a ho, a tramp, stupid, unbalanced and sub-human. Junior high anyone? I read a book (which I cannot now remember the title or author) where the heroine was trying to rebuild her life after being dumped and one of the running "jokes" was that the other woman was fatter than she was. So the whole book it was "Tee, hee, what does he think he's getting out of it when she's fatter?" Um, maybe that she's not shallow? Meow!
3) And of course there is always petty revenge that involves vandalism, trespassing, etc. Because in life there are winners and losers and if you aren't willing to be a worse person than your ex, you are going to lose!
I used to read lots in this genre of chick-lit because I felt like it mirrored my life. (Huge wake-up calls hitting me over the head, have to take charge of life, etc.) I ended up yelling at every single one, "He left you because you are petty, mean and unprincipled!"
Yeah, IRL, I'd expect many of these cute, zany heroines to end up in jail.