Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria van Tiem
Publishing Date: 14th January 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
The problem with first love is that it never truly dies…
A funny, bitter-sweet romantic dramedy set to an 80s soundtrack.
Libby London fell in love in with the 80s, came of age in the 90s, and now, in the 21st Century, she’s completely falling apart… Her New York City fashion sensibility is more ‚vintage tragedy’ than ‚retro babe’ and might just be what’s holding her back in all matters of life and love…
At least that’s what her well-meaning friends think. They’ve staged a #80sIntervention in an effort to bring Libby bang up-to-date. But how do you move forward when the one you love holds you in the past? Between her dreaded birthday party, friend’s madcap ambush, and being forced to relocate her Pretty In Pink thrift shop, Libby’s nearing the end of the rope… If her therapist isn’t quick, it could be a literal one.
Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria van Tiem dropped very unexpectedly through my letterbox (as a belated Christmas present, ha!) I planned on requesting a review copy anyway so just imagine my surprise and joy when I opened the envelope and saw that this is THIS BOOK. Holding Out for a Hero is, just like Victoria’s debut novel Love Like the Movies, full of mentions of the cult – films and music from the eighties, and even though I was more likely to enjoy them few years later, I was stupidly excited when reading about them and being able to picture them in my mind or hum every song that was mentioned. Maybe this is why I could get Libby so good, and picture the way she was dressing and just being.
I knew that I’m going to adore this book after the first mention of Ferris Buller at the beginning of the book – I loved this film, and Libby, too! Also, the chapters in this story are titles of songs and movies from the 80s – things that I grew up listening to and watching, which made me feel so, so nostalgic!
I adored the idea of this book: Libby London is over thirty, but she lives and breaths the 80′s. Even her job is her 80s shop, Pretty in Pink, where she sells clothes and music from the 80s. She just came to a standstill in the 80s and that’s the end of the story. But her friends decide she should start living again and they stage an #80sIntervention – Libby is going to get a makeover, including new clothes, new hair, new make – up, new everything, and they’re going to send her on the dates, chosen by them, but based on the characters in Libby’s favourite film, The Breakfast Club. The question is, is Libby ready for such intervention? Does she need such intervention at all?
This novel was full of LOL – moments, and some of the one – liners made me snort with laughter. Really, the author, by dropping a very innocent word here or there to the dialogues made them just hilarious, and I could laugh hours later when thinking about them. Brilliant, brilliant job!
But. This book is not only laughs and happy memories of the 80s. It is very quickly clear that Libby has issues, and the more we learn about it, the more we can see that those are really serious issues that have their roots in Libby’s teenage years, and this is why she has decided to stay in the times where she was happy, ie. in the times of Like a Virgin by Madonna. What happened? You must read for yourself, I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, it would be the worst I could do. But this what happened, and its consequences, crushed my heart, I couldn’t watch Libby so broken – she was such a lovely girl, with a sunshine personality, and I wanted to see her happy.
At the beginning everything was nice and beautiful, but then, seeing Libby protesting and not feeling great in her new clothes, I started to think why do her friends want to force her to change? Why don’t they let her stay as she is, if she’s happy like this? But then I started to doubt that Libby IS happy, and guessing that there is something that is keeping her in the 80s – what is this? Relatively quickly I guessed what happened, although I doubted in my own theory occasionally, but when it was confirmed that I was right, it just broke my heart. So in reality this, what started as a super – duper light story, quickly turned out into a book with a depth, dealing also with much more important and serious issues, but still with this lovely, laugh – out – loud humour. It was just perfectly balanced.
The dates the author sends Libby on were hilarious! Yes, OK, they might have been a little too far – fetched, but on the other hand I think we should take them with a pinch of salt and just go with the flow. The anaesthetist „Brain” date, the „Athlete” date, the „Criminal” date, and let’s not forget the „Princess” date, with golfing, parrots and clubbing were so vividly described and I couldn’t stop laughing when reading.
There was also a brilliant group of characters in this book. Libby was one of them, of course, but also her friends, you could just see that they feel so comfortable in each other’s company, Libby’s therapist Dr P., who has never gave up on her, no matter what he encouraged her to keep going, and all other background characters – they were vivid, colourful and all so fresh, with their own personalities, and I loved reading about them all.
This book has all what I was hoping for – interesting plot with twists and turns, brilliant humour and darker side to it, and personally I loved it more that Victoria’s debut novel, which, BTW, was also great! I didn’t want to put this novel down for a second, I just wanted to see what’s going to happen next and what kind of date is Libby going to next. Sure, some of the situations were on the verge of absurd, the same as some of the characters, but this time it just worked with this plot and it made me laugh. Victoria’s writing style is so enjoyable and easy to follow and I didn’t have a problem to get on with her humour and hidden jokes. It’s a poignant novel about never giving up, about friendship, keeping going and healing. And this book made me feel nostalgic. Really. I just want to put on body suit, bandeau and turn on aerobic with Jane Fonda. Highly recommended (book. Not Jane Fonda. Though if you like…)