‘…And A Happy New Year?’ by Holly Bourne

★★★★★/5 stars

PUBLISHED BY USBORNE!

The final instalment from our beloved Spinster Club members brings the three girls, Evie, Amber and Lottie, back together to ring in the new year after going their separate ways post-sixth form. Counting down the hours to midnight, ‘…And A Happy New Year?’ documents the change in the threesome’s dynamic since going to university and college respectively, and checking in on how each of their stories have continued to unravel. Has Evie relapsed again? Are Amber and Kyle still together? Is Lottie still kicking patriarchy butt?

Thankfully, the answer to those all important questions are ‘No’, ‘Yes’ and ‘Hell yeah!’

However, the Spinster Club reunion isn’t without its strains and challenges. Because leaving home and going to university does change everything, regardless of whether your friendships are destined to stand the test of time or not. The university experience is like living in a bubble where the concept of time is completely warped. Hours, days, weeks fly by whilst simultaneously feeling like months and years. And although, for the most part — at least for me anyway — everything seemed to remain the same when coming home, you slowly, bit by bit, have begun to become a different person and sometimes it feels like you don’t quite fit into the same habits and friendship groups you’d become comfortable in before.

So… in the most longwinded way possible, I need, need, need to praise Holly Bourne for writing about this stage in many teenage girls’ lives, because there is not enough YA out there about the university years and, you know, we’re young adults too! (Not that I’m actually a student anymore, sob.) (YA books about early twenty-somethings would also be grand, thanks!)

Another aspect of capturing this stage in a person’s life that resonated with me was the ‘not so happily ever after/life does continue trundling on in its peaks and troughs’ theme. ‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ didn’t end with your stereotypical fairytale ‘happily ever after’; we don’t know whether Lottie got into Cambridge, or how the Spinster Club would cope with the future as it rapidly approached. All the while reading the initial trilogy, there was a constant feeling that things were about to change in a very, very big way for the girls, and that their cheesy snack enthused evenings discussing the Bechdel test, and other intricacies of feminism, was coming to an end as they (and we) knew it.

And I liked that. I liked that ‘…And A Happy New Year?’ didn’t depict the girls perfectly coping with navigating university, long distant relationships (and indeed friendships) and their mental health. Just because you’ve had a few hundred pages each dealing with and coming to terms with your problems, being offered some hope and badass friendship doesn’t magically eradicate and fix everything. Growing up is hard; life, as a whole, is a constant uphill battle — internally and externally. So it was pleasing, in a way, to know that things weren’t completely hunky dory for Evie, Amber and Lottie, because they weren’t for me either.

It was a reassuring and heartwarming read and although I’m very sad to be bidding farewell to three girls I have come to hold very dear to me (and wish could’ve helped me when I was sixteen), I must say that Holly Bourne has done wonders for telling their individual stories in such a compelling and influential way. I wholeheartedly believe all teenage girls will be for the better reading about our wonderful spinster ladies.

Currently listening to #2

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