My Not So Perfect Life
|May 8, 2017||Posted by admin under Coming of age, Fiction, Humour, Romance, Women|
Publication date: February 2017
I like Sophie Kinsella books. No, they’re not great pieces of literature, but she’s not trying to be. What she wants is to entertain readers with an engaging story, clever wit, and delicious humour. Yes, I just called humour “delicious”—our world is so serious, both on the political and economical scale, but also just living the day-to-day adulthood grind, that anything that causes us to pause and (gasp!) chuckle for a moment is to be savoured.
So, yes, I, a professional editor slash former English major student with a Master’s degree, enjoy Sophie Kinsella books. She makes me laugh. Do I care deeply about her quirky characters? Not quite the same level as I did for Book of Negros or Kite Runner, but I still looked forward to curling up and checking in on how Becky (Shopoholic series) or Emma (Can you Keep a Secret) or Lexi (Remember Me) were chugging along in their usually chaotic, always humourous quest for love, romance, stability, money, and adventure.
The character of the hour in her latest, My Not So Perfect Life, is Katie, or Cat, as she’s trying to invent herself as. She’s a country girl, trying to make it in the big city of London. I’m not totally sure of her age, but she has finished university and completed an internship and one other job, so I would place her at mid-late twenties. She’s def still in that early career stage—trying to make it on her own, living paycheque to paycheque, and doing everything she can to impress her boss.
A boss who has the reputation of being a self-absorbed, scatter-brained, well … meanie, really. Katie/Cat spends her days trying to get the attention of her super-successful boss, Demeter (yes, that’s her name), while simultaneously daydreaming about one day having her life. Demeter “has it all”: Barbie-doll family, a beautiful home that’s been featured in magazines, the successful career, the non-stop invites to parties, and there’s even rumours Demeter is juggling a hot boy toy on the side.
Katie, on the other hand, shares a flat with people she doesn’t like, has a room so small that she uses a hammock as a wardrobe, is crushing on a guy who is giving her mixed signals, and lives on such a tight budget that she can’t really enjoy the London lifestyle she so craves.
Thank goodness for Instagram, though, where Katie can pretend she’s living the London dream. Snaps of fancy coffees (not hers), markets (where she buys nothing), and hipster food (again, not hers) convince her friends and to a certain extent Katie herself that she’s made it.
We all know that social media lies and does not project the truth, and this is the very essence of My Not So Perfect Life. Does anyone really lead a perfect life? I think we can all agree that the answer to that is no, but the journey to accepting that reality isn’t always easy. For Katie, it involves major transitions and allowing herself to see another perspective—a perspective that might just clash with the London life she has so adored and put on a pedestal.
As with all Kinsella books, this was a fun read. Not earth-shattering, no, but, again, it’s not supposed to be. I admit I was a bit annoyed that half the book is given away on the book jacket (which is why I am deliberately not giving away too much of the plot here). It was well over 200 pages before the plot had advanced beyond what the book jacket told me would happen.
Additionally, I’m not in love with the love story that Kinsella creates for Katie. Sorry, Sophie, I usually can get behind your charming leading men, but not this one. The whole romance plot line, to me, seemed to go against the very core of the book … it was almost too good to be true, and I felt it under-minded the message of the rest of the book.
I did enjoy the focus on Katie’s career, as this is something most young women struggle with. How to climb that corporate ladder when you’re still new to the industry and stressed to the max about bills and just living, basically.
Social media exaggerates everything, doesn’t it? I thank my lucky stars that I was able to survive, I mean progress through, adolescence and high school sans social media. That my university years aren’t forever recorded in photo form for anyone with any Google know-how to find. (Shudder.) Those times are hard enough. I don’t envy today’s youth. And Katie is just trying to do what thousands of young people have been trying to do all over the world for centuries: find her place in the world. It can’t be easy constantly comparing yourself to others, but, as Katie learns, just remember: not everything on Instagram is completely true.
Pick your truth and don’t let the snapshots of others’ lives influence your mood. For every fancy meal photo or travel pic or happy smiling face snap you see, what you’re not seeing are those same people opening bills they can’t afford, the other evenings spent being lonely, and meals consisting of canned tuna casserole.
We all have our not-so-perfect-life moments, and it’s okay to celebrate those, too. Balance and all.
For more information about this book or to learn how to get your very own copy, visit here.