Book Review: Sex, Lies and Bonsai by Lisa Walker

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A (very) brief plot overview

Following a breakup in Sydney, Edie moves back home to the coast with her ex surfer champion dad, his new partner Rochelle and her brother Jay. Going from city living to small town life where everyone knows who your dad is is tough, especially when you have social anxiety, fancy your married boss and jokingly wrote a piece of exotic fiction that happened to get passed around the town…

What’s good about it?

As the title suggests, this is a fun, lighthearted read that centres on romance. The use of Edie’s erotic fiction writing and her social anxiety made this book stand out a little more in the crowd of ‘girl meets boy, they don’t like each other but love each other at the end’ books. I feel like a lot of people are tiring of chick lit being quite so stereotypical, so for me these additions by Lisa Walker made her novel a lot more unique.

The book had me smiling with it’s jokey nature, innuendo, witty one liners and Edie’s dramatics. As a leading lady in a romance story, Edie was a good one – you liked her, you rallied for her and you were happy when she got the ending that she deserved. She was a little unusual, a little ditzy but she had a good heart. It’s not always easy to write characters like this without them coming across as really annoying, so Lisa Walker did a good job when crafting Edie.

I really liked the mental health elements of the story, with the book touching upon social anxiety and depression with the character of Edie’s mum. It added a layer that I wasn’t expecting and pushed the book to have more of an impact than it would have without it. These elements deepened Edie’s character, making her not just the cute-but-awkward main character but one with depths and layers that explained a lot of why she was the way she was.

With recently moving to Australia, I am trying to read more Australian writers and/or books based in Australia, so this was a good pick. Like the cover suggests, this book is charming and witty.

What’s not so good?

I really try with the girly romance/chick lit genre, but it’s just not for me. I knew the ending as soon as Jay was introduced and didn’t feel any sense of suspense or surprise. This isn’t really a criticism of the book in particular because it fits the chick lit genre and never pretends to be anything other than that, but if you’re looking for something a little ‘more’ then this isn’t for you.

Also, at times I felt the writing bordered on young adult fiction rather than fiction for adults, reading more like a coming of age romance than an adult romance. At twenty three, sometimes Edie slipped into seeming a lot younger and came across as immature for her age. Sometimes when she wrote about sex it felt jarring with the naive character that she was. I suppose that this is easily done when writing about ‘growing up’, but I feel like for most women over the age of twenty five this would make Edie seem like a protagonist that they couldn’t really side with or relate to.

Rate me: 6/10. This score isn’t because this book is bad – it’s not, it’s a good book – but you have to be into romance and ditzy protagonists to really love this one.

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