Book Review: Absolutely Smashing It by Kathryn Wallace

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A (very) brief plot overview

Gemma’s new neighbour, Becky, plots to get Gemma, a hard working, single mother of two spirited children, back on the dating scene after a two year break.

What’s good about it?

First of all, this book is funny, funny as in laugh out loud, read the paragraph to your partner funny. Reading it felt like sitting in a bar on a girls night out or being on your friends couch with a bottle of wine between the two of you, chatting away about your day. The warmth and humour in this book made it really special and for me it is the biggest selling point of it.

As someone who doesn’t have children, I didn’t feel like I was alienated from one of the main parts of this narrative – Gemma and Becky’s relationship with their children. A lot of the storyline focuses on their role as mother’s and finding an identity away from this role, but the humour and writing style made it so I could still go on their journey with them, even though it was one I haven’t personally experienced myself. As a reader, I enjoyed watching the characters grow beyond their role as a mum and found myself cheering them on from start to end.

Gemma and Becky’s friendship is also a really lovely part of the story. Every woman can recognise a time in their life when they have met someone and just ‘clicked’. This book was a real celebration of women’s friendships, the highs and the lows, and a real testament to what can be achieved when women support each other.

For such a lighthearted book, I really liked that it touched on some serious issues like mental health, redundancy and work life balance. Including serious topics in mainstream, popular books like this is a good way of normalising them and opening them up to discussion. I like that Kathryn Wallace didn’t make her book so light hearted that it veered away from reality and became a roll your eyes, impossibly happy bubble read.

As a blogger, I think Kathryn Wallace has done really well breaking away from blogging and into novel writing. It’s her first novel and it is a strong debut, keeping the lighthearted, relatable tone of her blogs and pushing them further into an interesting narrative.

What’s not so good about it?

First of all, as someone who taught in an inner city school and knows the education system, if some of the children in my class had been talking like that the children in this book did in school then there would have been a fair few talks to the safeguarding team and meetings with parents! I understand that they were written for comedic effect and sometimes made it so situations seemed more painfully embarrassing for Gemma to help the reader feel for her, but for me the children’s constant talk of penises, profanity and sexual terms was just a little bit unbelievable.

I also found that the book drifted into predictability in the second half, with the end of the book almost tying up too neatly. Don’t get me wrong, the ending was satisfying and made sense, but it was almost too perfect to seem realistic. Plus Gemma’s ex seemed to come from nowhere and her U-Turn about him in the spare of ten minutes was a little bit hard to understand, but again I understand that this served to throw the storyline in a new direction to then have the happy ending the characters deserved. These criticisms didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading the book, though, and I still closed it feeling satisfied.

Rate me: 7/10. A perfect poolside read, a book that will undoubtedly make you smile and is on I would recommend to my friends who like to read books that aren’t too serious or too ‘literary’.

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