Monday, October 7, 2019

How Could She - Lauren Mechling

Summary: An assured and savagely funny novel about three old friends as they navigate careers, husbands, an ex-fiancé, new suitors, and, most importantly, their relationships with one another

After a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Geraldine is struggling to get her life back on track in Toronto. Her two old friends, Sunny and Rachel, left ages ago for New York, where they've landed good jobs, handsome husbands, and unfairly glamorous lives (or at least so it appears to Geraldine). Sick of watching from the sidelines, Geraldine decides to force the universe to give her the big break she knows she deserves, and moves to New York City.

As she zigzags her way through the downtown art scene and rooftop party circuit, she discovers how hard it is to find her footing in a world of influencers and media darlings. Meanwhile, Sunny's life as an It Girl watercolorist is not nearly as charmed as it seemed to Geraldine from Toronto. And Rachel is trying to keep it together as a new mom, writer, and wife--how is it that she was more confident and successful at twenty-five than in her mid-thirties? Perhaps worst of all, why are Sunny and Rachel--who've always been suspicious of each other--suddenly hanging out without Geraldine?

Hilarious and fiercely observed, How Could She is an essential novel of female friendship, an insider's look into the cutthroat world of New York media--from print to podcasting--and a witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.
  (Summary and pic from

My Review: I want you to think over your life and come up with the three most catty women you know. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Ok, now it’s best if these women know each other, and possibly they have some interactions that lead to everyone eye rolling about how ridiculous they are. Its best if they’re frenemies with a long and storied past. It’s best if they talk about each other all the time behind each other’s back, and if they end up basically back together with the promise of all the drama just starting over again, that would be best. Have you thought of three women? If you haven’t, that’s okay. You can just read this book.

I heard about this book on the Kirkus Reviews podcast, “Fully Booked.” They interviewed the author, and the editors were very excited because they felt like they related to this book and knew these women. In fact, an author blurb on the front says “I know these women. I am these women.” Now, maybe you live in a place where there are lots of cutthroat women who are basically jerks. Phony relationships, jealousy, unkindness. Ugh. Admittedly, I don’t live in New York and so I’m not familiar with the cutthroat business of publishing these women are in. I do belong to and work in many organizations where there are a lot of women (predominantly women) and I am aware of what it is like to be around competitive women. I mean, I know a few women like this, but I try to steer clear. I just absolutely don’t have time for this kind of negativity in my life, and I think that’s why it took me so long to read this book. I’m usually a pretty fast reader, and this isn’t a really long book. However, it took me weeks to read, which is pretty much unheard of for me, especially if I like the book. I can’t say I hated this book. I mean, any time we’re given insight into the human psyche I find it valuable (varying degrees of valuable, let’s say). However, I really can’t say I liked it, either. It was just so petty and catty and the women were pretty horrible. It was actually hard to like or relate to anyone. I just kind of felt like they all should get their comeuppance and I would walk away with feeling peace about that. It’s hard to read a book where you don’t really like anyone, right? I mean, even in my own life if there are people I don’t like that’s fine, because there are plenty of people I do. This book left little to like.

There is a part of me that believes this book was tongue and cheek, or possibly somewhat mocking. The author could possibly have just really wanted to write a book about the horrible world that these women live in, what it has done to them, and what they have done to each other. If so, she has very much succeeded. The soul crushing that has happened in these women’s lives just permeates throughout everything in this book in a take-no-prisoners sort of way.

The writing is decent, and the storytelling as well. It’s a little confusing because a lot of the characters have similar, non-descript names, and they overlap in each of the character’s lives, so sometimes it’s a little hard to keep track of who is who and who is doing who and who is hating who etc., etc., etc., but that was very minimal and for the most part I got the gist.

If you really enjoy reading about women’s relationships—they’re touchy and difficult and they don’t always survive, I think you will find this a very interesting read. If you’re in the publishing world (like the people of Kirkus Reviews, who really enjoyed this book) I think you’ll dig this book. If you hate reading about catty women who basically try to destroy each other, you should probably move along.

My Rating: 2 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book was surprisingly light on the language and sexual content.

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