How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson
In so many ways, Kate Reddy is me. There were moments in the book that I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. From writing or editing your teen's English essay to the "crime scene period," I've totally been there.
Kate Reddy is nearing 50. Her husband's packed in a paying career to become a bike-riding, healthy living, therapist who earns little to no money. Her teens are in the state most teens are where life is never fair and social media can be torture. With mounting bills, in-laws who need more help than they're getting, and a needy mother, Kate's trying to balance it all while getting a job outside the home for the first time in years.
The workforce isn't accepting of middle-aged women. Kate soon learns that to land a job, some creative marketing is necessary. She lies about her age and happens to land a job in the same financial firm she left so many years ago. The staff is all new, but it's a job Kate knows how to do, even if she's surrounded by ageist jerks. With the support and guidance of her friends, Kate's convinced she'll make it work.
I seriously did relate to Kate in so many ways. After my kids headed off to college, I went back to work. A 40-something who's been a stay-home-mom for close to two decades is not well received. Even though I've worked from home for 15 years as a virtual assistant, certifications in online marketing, and have references galore, I had men tell me that I had no marketable skills. I was turned away by a grocery store of all ridiculous places because they "weren't sure an older person used to sitting behind a desk could handle eight hours of being on her feet."
People who haven't deal with perimenopause won't get the realism in portions of the narrative. Her conference meeting perimenopausal period. I have been there. In her case, she snuck off. She's lucky. I was serving food samples, felt that Niagara Falls flow, created the crime scene bathroom (so yeah, I get that too), cleaned up, and wadded up as many paper towels as I could fit. I talked to my boss - a very uncomfortable situation - and was told she couldn't let me go home and to get back to work. She went on to say that "black's a good color for that reason, the blood won't show up." I quit shortly after that. I couldn't help but laugh at the descriptions that Allison Pearson created. They were spot on.
Kate faces many situations in this book. My mom has Alzheimer's, so I've been there. Thankfully, my daughter never took "belfies," but she had classmates that did that and worse and went through the same experience as Kate's daughter. I get the longing for the babies that are now far from babies. I related to the character in so many ways that it did at times feel like she was living my life.
There were times I wanted the pace to speed up. I was hooked on Kate's interactions at work, her relationship with her family, and her final decisions on where things would go from here. I was happy to cheer her on.