Absolutely Smashing It by Kathryn Wallace
Publishing Date: 7th March 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: General Fiction, Parenting, Humour
***Unmissable, hilarious and kind, this is the first novel from Kathryn Wallace, who blogs as I Know, I Need to Stop Talking***
“SAM! AVA! Get downstairs, NOW. Have you done your TEETH? HAIR? SHOES? Come on, come on, come on, we’re going to be bastarding late again. No, I haven’t seen Lego Optimus Prime, and nor do I give a shit about his whereabouts. Sam, will you stop winding your sister up and take this model of the Shard that I painstakingly sat up and created for you last night so that I wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. I mean, so that you wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. No, it doesn’t smell of ‘dirty wine’. Well, maybe it does a little bit. Look, Sam, I haven’t got time to argue. Just hold your nose and get in the car, okay? AVA! TEETH! HAIR! SHOES!”
Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face.
But Becky is very persuasive and before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. Not only that, but Gemma has to manage her attraction to her daughter’s teacher, Tom, who has swapped his life in the City for teaching thirty six to seven year olds spelling, grammar, basic fractions – and why it’s not ok to call your classmate a stinky poo-bum…
It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough.
Gemma is a single parent, after her husband (Nick the Dick) decided to go on an adventure of his life (with his secretary), juggling a full – time job and all the usual things you have to juggle in your everyday life. She’s turning forty soon, her boobs are somewhere around her knees on her daughter’s picture and of course she didn’t know she should read at least one hour with her children during the Christmas break… Then Becky moves next – door and they hit it off immediately. She tries to persuade Gemma to start dating again and she’s very persuasive – and so they make a pact that before Gemma turns 40 she will finally have sex and for Becky to land a perfect job.
It’s going to be a long, long year for both Gemma and Becky, what with disastrous dates, job interviews, school, homework and dogs…
I loved Gemma from the very beginning, she was just my kind of girl. Honest, genuine, without beating around the bush, telling things how they really are. She didn’t always manage to make all the things right, she often forgot things and this is why I wanted to high – five her, as she so reminded me of myself. I am also not perfect. I liked her friendship with Becky, who was like a breath of fresh air, albeit very quick and loud breath, also telling the truth direct into your face, no matter if you wanted to hear it or not.
I absolutely, totally loved Gemma’s dates and I am really, really sad that there were only a few of them put in the story. They were hilarious and I could probably read a whole new book only about Gemma’s adventurous meetings.
I also liked that the author didn’t only concentrate on Gemma but also took Becky under scrutiny as well and her struggles to find a job. You could think, Becky, so privileged, with nothing to worry about, successful husband at her side, a total liability of a dog as well, and I really, really applauded her desire to find herself a job. There comes a moment when you simply can’t stand sitting at home and you need to feel like a competent human being again. Becky’s adventures with finding the right place were not only hilarious but also – let’s admit it – sad and awfully relatable, but they only made the book more valuable and real. And I can of course remember taking my daughter to two interviews – however both times I’ve got the job so perhaps she’s brought me luck, but also both of those jobs were to work with children so maybe she was like a bonus point?
I really liked the writing style. It was so light and relatable, and the author has such a great way with words, and her writing is absolutely addictive. It has made me laugh out loud, nodding my head with understanding, roll my eyes and shake my head with disbelief. I must admit, my daughter was thanks god a very brave toddler and small child in comparison to so many others, nevertheless so many situations just rang a bell and it felt so personal. Though I must say that it’s getting serious now as she’s just started school and the whole school runs start to resemble those described by the author – cliques and ignoring each other is just normal. Hallelujah for ma daughter going to school by bus, really – I’m done, those few times that I had to go to school and meet some other parents.
The end of this story was, however, just too fairy tale – ish for me, to be honest. I like a happy end, but this one just too happy in my eyes, and I know, the characters have been struggling through the whole book and sure, they all deserved their own piece of happiness eventually but I’m just saying. As the whole story was so down to earth and so scarily relatable, the end seemed simply too soppy.
It was a hilarious, brutally honest and relatable story that I absolutely and whole – heartedly enjoyed. Personally I can read those funny stories about the challenges of parenthood and #FML moments over and over again, simply because they show me that I. Am. Not. Alone in all this parenthood malarkey, that there are others going through exactly the same things. Brilliantly funny but not too overdone, it was a perfect read for me. Highly recommended!