Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are responsible for creating the one chick-lit character that I can still remember more than ten years after ‘meeting’ him. That character was Harvard Hottie, the romantic interest in The Nanny Diaries. I’d be hard pressed to name characters from any other book I read in 2002 so why did Harvard Hottie stay in my mind? Perhaps because my friends and I had code names for various boys at the time (TNA, The Barry St Boy…). The authors knew their audience and whilst I was not a nanny on Park Avenue in New York, there was enough in The Nanny Diaries to identify with.
McLaughlin and Kraus still know their audience and more importantly, they know that their audience has grown-up. And that we worry about middle-aged things. And like they did in their previous books, they deliver the perfect balance of drama, glamour and humour in their latest, How to Be a Grown-up.
In brief, it’s the story of Rory McGovern, a woman balancing her own career as a stylist with her husband’s (a B-grade actor), a crumbling marriage, her two kids and all the other crap that comes her way – science projects, karate lessons, getting the kids to school on time. Rory lands a job on a high-end lifestyle site for kids – only problem, ‘kids’ are running the show (they’re actually in their twenties but you know, Gen-Yers…).
The laughs come primarily from poking fun at the Millennials-
“The receptionist who buzzed me in was wearing a blazer over a chevron-patterned romper. Due to the Lena Dunham effect, thighs in the office has become commonplace. Girls of all sizes were now wearing things I once would have called panties to answer phones and populate spreadsheets.”
and really, there’s no end to the entertainment in the antics of Gen-Y brats. Except of course laughing at our own #campold carry-on –
“”…this is not that,” I said, feeling… like I had to apologize on behalf of the 1980s.”
There’s also much delight in the digital-speak nonsense that Rory deals with in her workplace –
“‘We don’t have a curator for the design vertical,’ Kimmy said to her cuticles. I sat forward. ‘That’s where I can add value.’ I handed her my resume, which, following their Googling of me, seemed like inviting her to an ice cream social after we’d 69’d.”
as well as the ‘lifestyle’ for kids stuff, which is highly entertaining inflated ridiculousness. Rory doesn’t want $20,000 bed frames for her own kids, she just wants “…them to have everything I didn’t. Culture, diversity, food trucks.”
I received my copy of How to Be a Grown-up from the publisher, Atria Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Rory has so much going on that she realises “My meatballs were falling off my plate”. A new and tastier way of saying “I’ve got too many balls in the air”?!