How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne
From Goodreads: ‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’
Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?
There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.
Her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage, but everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.
When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.
It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?
The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.
So a few months ago, I got my first ever Illumicrate box, and it contained a sampler of Holly Bourne’s first ever adult novel. I wasn’t sure it would be for me, but I do love Holly’s writing, so I thought I would at least give it a skim over. And then it went and burrowed its way into my head with its fabulousness and I knew I had to buy it for YALC.
The book is just so relatable, and I am saying this as a 20-something year-old rather than someone actually in their 30’s. It’s been likened a lot to Bridget Jones’ Diary and it is easy to see why– lots of hilarious comments on the surface, and lots of interesting insights into womens’ lives underneath. The whole book plays on some of the key issues women face as they grow older– who to settle down with, when to have kids, what they do with their time, and most importantly how society views women at every turn. The protagonist, Tori, opts for a career. From the outside, it looks as though this is a deliberate decision to pick work over family life. And that is acceptable to some because she has made that choice. For others in the novel though, they feel the need to point out some biological factors about having or wanting children. Tori feels as though all of her friends are turning into mothers and that, as soon as they do, they almost go to a place on the opposite side of society to herself. It’s a really clever insight, because it highlights the whole damned if you do and damned if you don’t expectations of women.
The whole relationship element is also fascinating. Not just Tori’s very up and down relationship with her boyfriend, but how she puts expectations on that relationship based part on what she wants herself [which is obviously acceptable] but partly too on what other people around her have. Again, it comes down to that thing of wanting what other people have. We’re a terrible society, especially in this social media age, of people fuelled by petty jealousies.
Tori spends so much time on social media, trying to make herself feel as though she really is living the life she wants everyone to think she has. It’s pretty sad. I know a lot of the reviews I read for HDYLMN complained about Tori being too whiny and pessimistic and too much to handle, but I thought the book kind of needed that. Tori might not be who people want to be, but she’s still relatable. At the moment, my Facebook feed is filled with friends who are getting married, or having their first child, or getting a place together [probably renting because let’s be honest, who in this generation can afford to BUY A PLACE??] and my instagram is filled with people who can afford to go travelling around the world, people who have just gotten promoted, people who are throwing their graduation caps in the air or who have just been signed by modelling agencies. Most of these posts come with thousands of likes. Of course it is hard to live in a world where social media insidiously suggests to us how we’re meant to live our lives. Of course it is hard for us when society dictates at what exact age we’re meant to throw in the towel and realize we want to start families.
What makes HDYLMN so riveting is the way it examines these issues with such humour and style. Yes, Tori is sometimes a bit too much. There were moments when I gritted my teeth because she did something waaaay too dramatic and then she flip-flopped all over the place and changed her mind half a dozen times, but in a way that’s just a sign of how confused she is about what she should want. It’s kind of terrifying and amusing all smushed up under one blanket.
For anyone who is interested in reading this book, but generally sticks to YA, fear not. I did notice that, although the topic is much more adult than YA books usually are, the tone and language isn’t really far off Bourne’s other novels. I managed to transition from It Only Happens in the Movies to HDYLMN without feeling as though I was picking up an adult book, if I’m being honest. Which, since I mostly read YA, was quite nice.
Overall, I’m giving How Do You Like Me Now? a 9.5/10 stars. It was very witty and laugh out loud funny in places because it just hit home how real the whole book can be. And it highlighted and examined some really interesting issues with our society.
Have you read this book or want to read it? I always love hearing your thoughts and comments on books I review, so I’d really appreciate it if you want to join in the discussion by leaving a comment in the comment section below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.