Book Review: How Do You Like Me Now? By Holly Bourne

How Do You Like Me Now? By Holly Bourne
Release Date: 14th June 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy: Hardback  Kindle

'Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.'

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?
There's no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She's inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.
Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won't even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee - her plus one, the only person who understands the madness - falls in love, suddenly Tori's in terrifying danger of being left behind.
When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.
It's time for Tori to practise what she's preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

Thirty-one year old Tori Bailey is living her best life…She is a successful author and personality after the success of her memoir ‘Who the F*ck Am I?’ which was inspired by a break down in her twenties. After years of conforming, Tori decided to ignore society’s expectations and live the life she needed to lead, rather than the life she felt she should be leading. In doing so she happened to meet Tom, or ‘Rock Man’ as she refers to him in her book (clue: they met on a rock) and six years later they are still happily together. At least that is the image Tori portrays to everyone round her and what her posts on social media would have you believe.

However, Tori’s ‘perfect’ life is thrown into turmoil when her best friend and fellow non-conformist, Dee, admits that she is pregnant. Surely this can’t be happening. Dee is everything to Tori. Her Plus-One at the flurry of weddings they are invited to now they’re in their thirties, the person who cringes along with Tor at the influx of vom-inducing social media posts by people they went to Uni with “Date night for me and the hubby”, “Couples selfie alert”, “Saturday night in with the fam.” Bleugh. Tor knows that things will change with the arrival of Dee’s baby (and she will also stop having disastrous dates and giving Tor a detailed analysis of each and every one… ‘Help me he’s a crazy person’.)
Ok, so everyone else might be settling down and starting a family and Tori is sure that she and Tom will be doing this at some point. But when? Tom refuses to even talk about putting a time-scale on their future and now she’s in her thirties Tori wonders if she should be worrying about the ticking time bombs that are her ovaries.
So things aren’t so great at home…But that’s ok. Tori has a sparkling, successful career. Never mind the fact that her last book was released six years ago and she really should be writing her new one. The one about how to navigate your thirties now you’re settled with your dream man and everything is wonderful. She should be writing about her forehead lines and that extra bit of flab on her stomach she has named Herman. But for some reason she just can’t do it…
Finding herself trapped in a deeply unhappy state of affairs; can Tori practise what she preaches and follow her own path in life? Or is being perfect from the outside enough? What the F*ck is Tori Bailey supposed to do now?

The advanced reviews for How Do You Like Me Now were pretty damn awesome and I was just the tiniest bit excited about reading Holly Bourne’s foray into adult fiction. She is an absolutely amazing Young Adult writer and I couldn’t wait to see how her debut adult novel would pan out. I was hearing good things, my expectations were high, and it had an endorsement from Marian Keyes. What more could any living, breathing human being want from a novel?
But OHMYGOSH I wasn’t expecting to love this book quite as much as I did. As a twenty eight year old woman (gulp) it seemed to capture all of my fears, dramas and difficulties and shine an uncomfortably bright spotlight upon them. The thought of that might sound pant wetting-ly terrifying, but it actually proves to be nothing but reassuring. Someone else has been there. Someone else understands. It’s not just you who sometimes feels left behind, it’s not just you who hasn’t got life figured out, it’s not just you who has an unhealthy obsession with Colin the Caterpillar cake (Ok, that last one might just be me…)
Holly Bourne has captured every woman’s inner most thoughts, feelings and concerns and whipped them up into this realistic, hilarious and extremely clever novel. With an added shot of self-loathing and a side plate of self-deception, I think every woman at every age has felt a portion of the feelings that Tori is experiencing in this novel and it is hugely comforting. It also pokes fun at some of these inner most thoughts and worries and turns some of them into things that can and should be laughed at.
Of course, not everything is that simple, as Tori proves. Her relationship with Tom is worrying for many reasons and as an outsider it is easy to form your own opinion on what she should or shouldn’t do, but I’m sure many readers will be able to understand that when you are in that situation yourself, things are never that black and white.

Holly Bourne’s writing is superb.  She has created characters you will genuinely care about, a relatable storyline that you will quickly become submerged in and I also think that she has created something quite special with How Do You Like Me Now?
I’d like to put this book into the hands of every twenty-something female and tell them that things are going to be ok. Because that is genuinely the message that I took away from this novel and I’m really grateful to Holly Bourne for that. I certainly wasn’t expecting to read a book that made me feel so understood and I appreciated that massively. This book is fearless, honest and sometimes so true-to-life that it actually hurts.

Read it, be reassured by it, laugh at it, laugh with it, but ultimately - ENJOY IT.

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