Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 1st January 2019
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 315
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…
The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!
If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.
Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.
Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…
Georgina is working in probably the worst Italian restaurant in Sheffield, has a narcissistic boyfriend, a patronising family that doesn’t understand her life choices, a housemate from hell, and then she’s not only unfairly sacked from her job but also finds her boyfriend in a very unambiguous situation with his PA. And this is when she’s thought things couldn’t get possibly any worse… But at last luck seems to be on her side when she gets an unexpected job offer at a newly refurbished pub, run by the brilliant Dev. However, then she meets Dev’s brother, and business partner, Lucas – her first ever love. She immediately recognizes him, but he doesn’t remember her. Or maybe he doesn’t WANT to remember her?
I think Georgina, as a main character, may trigger mixed feelings but I liked her. She was funny and sharp and relatable and her life was so full of problems: she loved being a waitress, even if she was working at the worst place possible so when she’s fired, in front of the full restaurant, she’s truly shocked. She feels comfortable with her boyfriend but then she discovers something and even though she’s so right about her decision he doesn’t want to let her go. Her flatmate seems to hate her, leaving her passive – aggressive notes and her step – father also seems to hate her, and for sure he doesn’t appreciate her, and so on, and so on. So really, to be honest, nothing comes easy to her. But I loved the fact that she never gave up, that she tried to process her dramas and, despite all of the troubles, she’s happy with her life. – even though she sometimes felt like a failure, sometimes didn’t know what to do with herself and her life. The continuous reminders of her being thirty and that perhaps it’s really time to slow down and do something useful (ie. get married and start to produce children) also didn’t help. But she was strong, she had great friends and she never gave up, and this is why I liked her so much. Of course, there is still some self – doubt but on the whole she was more or less happy with this what she had and she felt comfortable in her own skin.
The romance aspect was, in fact, the background story – it was Georgina’s tale, and I loved it that way, though, I must admit, Lucas was absolutely, totally delicious. Yes, let’s swoon a little about Lucas. Sigh. I simply adored him, even with him blowing hot and cold. The younger Lucas, the one that was Georgina’s boyfriend, came across as absolutely brilliant, responsible and honest teenager while the older one seemed much more moodier but there is a reason to this, oh yes, there is. But let’s put the moods aside, guys, he was simply perfect. And had a dog Keith – what more would you need, right?
Those were actually the characters that made the book so outstanding, I think. They were all so brilliantly developed and full of personality and even if they were absolutely unlikeable – yes, I’m looking at you, Geoffrey, you little toad – you had to appreciate how much work went into all of them, how realistic they all felt. They were strong, not too meh, complex and complicated, just like they should be.
The family dynamics in the story were so well captured! My heart broken at Georgina’s attempts to hide the truth from her mother and sister and, as it turned out, they wanted to do the same. Also, at the fact that she still couldn’t process her dad’s death, at the guilty feeling she was still having – she really had a heart in the right place. The descriptions of the dysfunctional family from Georgina’s childhood were so realistic and plausible, as well as the family from her present days – the meetings at her sister’s were hilarious, especially when we think about the grandmother Nana Hogg, and also full of hurt, pain and bad feelings.
Sure, there were also some things that felt undone or ended abruptly, or too conventionally, like with the short drama with the diary, I’d love a little more depth and development in the Georgina and Lucas’s relationship but they were only small bumps on the otherwise smooth journey but on the whole the book was written in a very easy to read, flowing style that I enjoyed very much. The plot was relatively simple but Mhairi McFarlane’s take on it simply brilliant. There were moments that it felt predictable, the will they/won’t they were there but it was written in such a refreshing, engaging way that it truly didn’t bother me. The events felt so natural, the pace was just spot on, the romance was well developed and I literally raced through this book. The humour there was just my kind of humour, I loved Georgina’s sharp tongue and her one – liners and the banter was witty and warm. It was a perfect mix of laugh, tears, heartbreak and hope. There was much more to this book that you could initially think. It’s about not allowing others to put you down, about raising above, about getting over your old demons. A hilarious novel with an unexpected depth to it, story about second chances, coming to terms with your past and growing to value yourself. There are some very strong messages in this book, wrapped up amongst the laughs so if you’re looking for a light, heart – warming story that will make you think as well, don’t hesitate and treat yourself to “Don’t You Forget About Me” – highly recommended!