Review: How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson

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☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆


What it’s about:

Kate Reddy’s comeback as a pushing-50 “Returner,” re-entering the workforce after a spell on the mommy track, is zesty, razor-sharp, and hilarious. With a robust absence of self-pity, she has defined the humiliating onset of “invisibility” that coincides with the onrushing pressures of parents, teenage kids, and a marriage gone flat, all while attempting to reinstate her perilous professional worth. It’s full of such quotable casual profundity on the female condition I couldn’t read it without a pencil to underline the abundance of great lines. Get ready for Kate!” —Tina Brown

Allison Pearson’s brilliant debut novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was a New York Times bestseller with four million copies sold around the world. Called “the definitive social comedy of working motherhood” (The Washington Post) and “a hysterical look―in both the laughing and crying senses of the world―at the life of Supermom” (The New York Times), I Don’t Know How She Does It introduced Kate Reddy, a woman as sharp as she was funny. As Oprah Winfrey put it, Kate’s story became “the national anthem for working mothers.”

Seven years later, Kate Reddy is facing her 50th birthday. Her children have turned into impossible teenagers; her mother and in-laws are in precarious health; and her husband is having a midlife crisis that leaves her desperate to restart her career after years away from the workplace. Once again, Kate is scrambling to keep all the balls in the air in a juggling act that an early review from the U.K. Express hailed as “sparkling, funny, and poignant…a triumphant return for Pearson.”

Will Kate reclaim her rightful place at the very hedge fund she founded, or will she strangle in her new “shaping” underwear? Will she rekindle an old flame, or will her house burn to the ground when a rowdy mob shows up for her daughter’s surprise (to her parents) Christmas party? Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?

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My Thoughts:

How Hard Can It Be? Is the second book in Alison Pearson’s Kate Reddy series. I haven’t read the first book, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and I had no problem diving right into How Hard Can It Be?; this book can definitely be read as a standalone novel.

I say novel, but it had <i> so, so many truths</i> in it for me. At times, I thought I was reading my biography! Whether your next significant birthday is 30, 40, or 50, you’ll appreciate Kate Reddy’s take on life and all of its inconveniences. Her teenagers’ issues may not be exactly what you or your children experienced, but their problems are universal enough that everyone can relate to them. If that isn’t enough fodder for sarcastic satire, Kate Reddy’s husband is out of work and possibly having a midlife crisis. He chooses a major shift in careers, and that requires Kate to return to the workforce and become the primary breadwinner. No problem, she was brilliant and successful pre-children, so how hard could it be to do it again?

In a rather light-hearted way, Ms. Pearson presents a wide range of issues that middle-aged women are truly dealing with. Lest you think the author has haphazardly thrown in the kitchen sink, I felt that Kate Reddy’s challenges were incredibly realistic. Trying to do it all, make everyone happy, putting your needs last, and constantly feeling like you just can’t catch a break sounds a lot like daily life to many a working mom or over-achieving-used-to-work mom.

When growing up, my mother read Erma Bombeck. Her hilarious take on life and parenting was fun, sweet, and sentimental. Reading Ms. Pearson’s version of life and parenting reminded me of my mother’s affinity for Ms. Bombeck’s books. Ms. Pearson’s book hit home for me. I enjoyed her humorous take on the daily challenges of the sandwich generation.


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