Stephanie Burgis
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Thank God for funny books...
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Aaagh. The last 24 hours have been bad, bad, bad, starting with even-worse-than-usual nighttime sleep sessions on both Friday and Saturday nights (poor teething baby!) and moving seamlessly through financial and technological bad news/disasters...sigh. The culmination came yesterday when I spent over an hour trying to make a single, five-minute video of myself reading from & talking about my story "Blue Joe" for the Shimmer website, finally, finally came up with a version I liked...and then I managed to screw up iMovie on Patrick's shiny new laptop so badly that it will no longer even open up my poor video and in fact is just generally sulking and refusing to cooperate with either of us.

Sigh.

It wasn't a good day, and today is starting off with the feeling of more of the same.

Luckily, there has been one thing keeping me sane: Gil McNeil's novel The Only Boy for Me, which I just won in a Bloomsbury competition. It's the kind of book I would never have picked up in a bookstore, because the new cover, while cute, just looks like chick lit with kids in it, and to be honest, apart from the Bridget Jones novels, I'm not a big fan of British chick lit. (Caution: major generalizations lie ahead!) The Brit chick lit novels I've read in the past have tended to have really shallow and not-very-intelligent heroines who don't care about anything except for their appearances and their love lives, which means that I don't tend to care about them, which has made the whole experience less than fun.*

But! If I hadn't picked up this novel, I would have been really, really missing out. The heroine of this novel, Annie, is a single mum who's raising a six-year-old while working a demanding job, and she's smart, competent, passionate about her (wonderfully-written and completely believable) son even as he also drives her crazy with his irrational six-year-old mood swings and demands; she's witty about the wackiness of both of her different kinds of workplaces; and she's constantly overwhelmed & harried not because she's ditzy but because she has genuinely TOO MUCH to do, like every working parent! But most of all, the voice and writing style are just hilarious throughout, with situations and conversations that are funny in the most piercingly real way. I picked the book up yesterday in a really, really foul and terrible mood, but by the end of the first two pages I was laughing out loud, by four pages in I was completely hooked, and I spent the rest of the day, off and on between disasters, reading it like medicine for my mood and sanity. I honestly don't know if the book would be so funny if I weren't a parent myself, but I want to shove it at every other parent I know with the command: READ THIS! NOW! Because, so far (I'm about 100 pages in right now), it really is that good.

Now, please knock on wood for me that the rest of the weekend will be an improvement and I won't need the book's help quite so much...

--
*And yes, I'm sure that I did probably read bad examples of the genre, so if anyone else has read really good ones, please do recommend them and change my mind about it!


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