My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow..this book!!! I read an ARC of this back in December and I am so happy I can finally start gushing over it.
Have you ever read a book that just speaks to you? This book was that for me. There is so much about it that is so real and so relevant and that I could really relate to. I wanted to just shout “YES!!!!”, it’s so completely and totally spot on. I like to highlight quotes as I read and can honestly say I’ve highlighted half of this book. It’s just so well written.
‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’
Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?
There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.
Her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage, but everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.
When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.
It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?
The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.
This was my first book from Holly Bourne (and the first adult book she’s written) but it won’t be my last. From the blurb I was expecting the standard chick lit or romcom type book that is all too common but this has so much more depth and realism to it than I ever could have anticipated.
As someone who is single and in their thirties (Edit: I was in my thirties when I read it so it still counts) I could relate to so much of this story. How it seems that at a certain age everyone suddenly starts getting married and having kids and how this creates a barrier between you. How scary the thought of being on your own, or never having children can be and how sometimes it feels like you’re losing at life if you’re not blissfully happy, married and popping out babies. How you can feel judged and inadequate for putting your career first, or for those with kids, for not being the right type of mother.
I don’t really like making comparisons but for me this had echoes of Bridget Jones Diary. It’s less of a romance but while Bridget was made to feel like there must be something wrong with her for being single by the smug marrieds, Tori is made to feel the same for not being a mother. Some of the things said to her are truly awful but I know from personal experience that it does happen. I could completely understand her jealousy and the feeling she had that she was trapped on the wrong side of a wall.
There are a number of other very relevant themes prevalent throughout this story. Our obsession with social media at the expense of enjoying the moment (if there’s no pictures on insta it didn’t happen), the endless quest for validation from a bunch of strangers on the internet, how success is determined by how many likes or comments something gets. It really made me question my own obsession with twitter and instagram. Tori may have driven me nuts with how obsessed she was with presenting the best image of herself, the idea that she has the perfect life and all the answers but really she was just an exaggerated version of a lot of us.
I did love the strong feminist vibe that runs through this book. I may not have loved Tori but I loved how she challenged those claiming to be feminists. One of my favorite moments was when she was on a panel with a man claiming to be a feminist, she may have been drunk but she was hilarious and absolutely spot on.
Her relationship with Tom made for some difficult reading and I absolutely hated it and kept praying she would end it but as the book points out starting over in anything is a much more daunting prospect in your 30s than in your 20s. There’s a definite feeling that you’re locked into the decisions and the path you’re on and just have to make the best of it.
If I had one minor qualm about this book and it is minor it’s that I just couldn’t understand Tom’s behaviour. He was just so horrible and manipulative. I can’t believe it was deliberate but I can’t accept that he didn’t know what he was doing.
I’ve probably made this sound like quite an intense read, dealing with heavy and depressing issues, but it’s not like that at all. There was the odd heartbreaking moment but there were more than a few that were hilariously funny, many of which involved best friend Dee (and often some kind of celebratory event). My personal favorite was a baby shower and some discussion over landing strips, I’m saying no more except that Tori is truly gifted at saying exactly what I would be thinking.
Thank you Holly Bourne for creating such a wonderful book and if you’re still reading after all of my waffling thank you too. If you can’t tell I absolutely loved it and would recommend everyone read this immediately. I kind of hope it’ll encourage women everywhere to maybe be a little less judgmental about how others choose to live their life.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.