Published by Hodder & Stoughton!
Toris has everything. A successful career with her best-selling self-help book, ‘Who The F*** Am I?’, a fantastic London lifestyle and a boyfriend she found whilst back-packing, right in the middle of her ‘find yourself’ moment. What she doesn’t have is everything else you’re apparently meant to have when you hit the thirty mark — an extortionate, extremely romantic wedding day, with babies following swiftly after. Influenced by the pressures of the superficially flawless lives captured on social media by her friends and family, and torn in half by her strong stance on feminism, everything Tori thought she wanted starts to crumble down. And, with that, it begins to dawn on her that her seemingly perfect life isn’t so perfect after all.
‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ is our generations answer to Bridget Jones, I’m calling it now. Just as funny, almost certainly as tragic at its lowest points, but also incredibly empowering and very much how our favourite granny-pants wearing woman would be had she hit the world by storm in 2017, and not the late 90s. Tori is a fantastically complex, flawed, raw character. She’s horrendous at her worst and entirely relatable in her weaker, insecure moments. If there’s one thing I will always crave for in a character it’s that they do and say questionable things, make bad-taste-in-your-mouth mistakes, that make you not altogether like them, but root for them all the same. Tori is human. She is me and she is you. Because none of us are perfect, and neither are our lives, no matter how we choose to relay them to everyone else.
There’s no denying Tori is successful and, given her dedicated feminist beliefs and achievements as an author, I could see a lot of both my own hopes and dreams, and also fears, in her. Years on, she’s still riding the highs of her incredibly well-received ‘Who The F*** Am I?’ self-help book, attending regular events and signings and inspiring her readers. But her personal life has grown stagnant, with her dream Rock Man now more or less in a relationship with his iPad and their cat, aptly named, yep, Cat. He ignores a lot of Tori’s advances and isn’t altogether very supportive of the insecurities that fester in Tori over her second book woes and the worries that come from seeing her friends and family’s lives moving on to their next stages, whilst hers maybe isn’t.
Their relationship is a ticking time bomb and although I hated Tom with a burning passion (side note: my review notes simply say ‘Wanted to punch Tom.’), I really appreciated the work Bourne did with their relationship. So often people stay with their partners because of how long it’s been that they can’t see beyond loving them; they feel obligated to stay. Then there is the fear of no longer recognising the dating scene, of knowing what it’s like to be single with the likes of dating apps being so prevalent nowadays. Sticking with them because maybe there’s a level of emotional abuse and manipulation at play they simply can’t see past. Highlighting that side of a relationship was done with such authenticity and class, especially because Tori’s response wasn’t always to be classy about it. She lashed out and relished in knowing when people were worse off than her, or seeking validation in her Instagram posts, which worked to show her as the bigger person, when sometimes in hindsight she was really just beating others down. Tom and Tori’s relationship worked as a way to showcase how long-term relationships can sometimes grow bitter, rather than adapting to life’s changes.
The stark light shone on the toxicity of social media was also impeccably done, carried out with such ease and knowledge into how it really is and the effects it has on us in the way we angle, re-touch and alter our identities. Tori is obsessed and sometimes manipulated by social media and the lives it reflects back at her from her phone screen. In turn, those messages she puts out aren’t altogether authentic, even in her more ‘real’ posts. It’s all about generating the likes, raking in the followers and appearing to be somehow revolutionary and above everything else already readily available on her followers’ feeds. Holly Bourne really nailed the inane pressures that come from social networks and how destructive it can be in shaping our perceptions of ourselves, shaking our confidence, and putting our idols on pedestals.
‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ is inherently relatable across the board. Whether you’re a teenager already championing Holly Bourne’s fantastic YA, in your early twenties like me (and still championing the fab YA), or picking this up at thirty and beyond, you will see a familiar world reflected back from the pages and feel the pull of Tori and her turbulent life. This book is a universal voice for the 21st century professional woman with Bourne’s usual flares of humour and credibility. I only wish people wrote more books like this for those lost in their twenties — or that I could devour the fictitious best-seller, ‘Who The F*** Am I?’
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for this review copy!*
‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ is out 14th June 2018!
(Pre-ordering my physical copy as we speak!)