I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group U.K. (Piatkus) in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warnings: death, grief, drug and alcohol use.
Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job)
–Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings)
Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.
Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.
But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .
The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?
But then she meets Scott.
Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.
Following on from The Education of Ivy Edwards (which I reviewed here), the lovable yet flawed Ivy Edwards returns in Is This It? – a book about getting your life together, getting your head around growing up and (finally) getting a chance at true love.
Ivy is as funny (and as likeable) as ever. I think where the first book focused on her spiralling out of control, this one focused on her gaining back that control which was great to see (and read). She still makes questionable decisions (don’t we all?) but, in this book, she also begins to make decisions that have a positive impact on her life – like teaching.
Despite my English degree, teaching is a job I swore I wouldn’t do but — from the various NQTs I know or am slightly aware of — I think Tovey captures the good, bad and ugly of primary school teaching well. It’s hard, it’s stressful but it’s very rewarding and I loved seeing Ivy push herself in a new and exciting role.
I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Ivy’s friends in the first book but, when I read this one, I found a new love and respect for Mia. She’s a bit snobby and needy but she’s also a brilliant friend and a great character. The sweet and funny moments between her and Ivy are lovely and her wild parties did make me laugh.
Ivy’s family are as weird and wonderful as ever, with a gorgeous new addition. Whilst I don’t have children myself, as an auntie to two gorgeous boys, I related to the unease around babies that Ivy had and — then — the huge amount of love you feel for this human being. As ever, Tovey is honest about parenting and it was nice to see a different side to her sister’s character.
Again, loss is explored in this book. Whilst the first book had me grappling with the loss I felt for my own Grandad, this one encouraged me not only to grieve but to remember the happy times I had which — on days when I am reminded that he is no longer with us —- was something I needed to hear.
Thankfully, unlike the first book, this wasn’t quite so doom and gloom. Despite being a massive cynic (I blame my less than successful dating journey so far), I love a love story so I was more than happy to watch the romance between Ivy and Scott unfold. It wasn’t perfect, there were messy bits and lovely bits, but it was real. I already think Ivy is a brilliant character but it was good to see how much she blossomed when Scott was around her, it felt like seeing your friend happy with someone.
Where the first book was about a woman whose life is falling apart, Is This It? is about the same woman – alongside her wonderful friends, family and a love interest – bringing things back together.
It’s easy to feel miles away from characters when reading fiction but, in Ivy and the other characters we come across in this book, I found that people I related to. Whether we are single, in a couple, parents, grandparents, friends or whatever, we are all trying to find ourselves in a messy world. This past year, it has been a struggle but the overall message of this book — which will stay with me for a long time — is that we will get where we need to be in the end.
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