As a twenty-something millennial I should have know that I would have ended up either delighted or offended by this book, and I certainly fluctuated between the two feelings on a regular basis as I made my way through it.
Title: Almost Adults
Author: Ali Pantony
Publication Date: 24th June 2019
Publisher: Penguin Random House; Ebury
Nat, Ed, Alex and Mackie call themselves the MEAN GIRLS, even though they are probably not (mostly). It’s hard trying to figure your life out when you’re young, and even harder trying to figure out how to be an adult.
Nat’s boyfriend of seven years has just dumped her out of the blue, and she now needs to find the pieces of herself again. Ed is living at home with her mum and her brother; she’s recently unemployed, gets pocked money for household chores and, although she will fight for her friends, isn’t ready to fight for herself yet. Alex is a teacher – calm and responsible – except when it comes to her boyfriend, who she’s afraid it going the same way as Nat’s when he starts acting strangely. And Mackie seems to have it all figured out; she eats kale, runs for fun, has a career … although she knows she needs to find a new job soon if she wants a career for much longer.
The friendships were great in this book, even though it all got a bit Sex and the City (wine and cigarettes to solve all of life’s problems?) – the relationship between the four girls is natural, funny and perfectly supportive, as well as dealing with issues of mental health and self-confidence. The book managed to do all of these things well and it certainly made me reflect on my own friendships too, grinning when I recognised those phrases or actions or decisions – that is certainly done well.
The downside – I hated all four of these girls from the very start. They only really improved once they had started to overcome their problems. But to start with they were so shallow that they were just unpleasant to read along with. Here’s a particular example that really grated (even though I get that they are written as POV chapters, these really hurt my eyes):
“No way,” he laughs sexily, shaking his sexy head and looking at me with his sexy eyes.
Followed shortly afterwards by:
My cheeks are flushing and my nipples are hard. I hold my folder up to my chest so he can’t see that my nipples are hard through my tight brown turtleneck…
… My nipples are still like shards of ice. I can’t walk into a meeting with nipples that could poke out my managing director’s eyes. I pull out my phone in an attempt to distract myself and my impossibly erect nipples from Luke’s hotness.
Oh my God. I just cringed all over again.
There are more than a few moments early one that do that to me.
And to be fair, the four girls do grow and develop, which makes them much more likeable before then end of the book. However, in their final chapters they become slightly preaching and sanctimonious about how much more in control of their lives they now are – so much more ‘self-actualised’. But, reading over my notes from the beginning, it also means that they have not just developed, it’s like they have completely different voices.
And the other positive – Alex, Ed, Mackie and Nat’s endings are good. And they’re not the just shiny, happy, glossy endings kind of good, instead they’re good for each character in their own individual way. Points for that.
A special shout-out, however, goes to the fictional town of Hackton on Sea. It is everything that an out of London, British home-town experience is like – drinking in Wetherspoons, sticky floored nightclubs, more KFCs that people. That was nicely done.
Overall, 3 stars.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Ebury in exchange for an honest review.