Reviews

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne

elinor's review against another edition

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inspiring reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

themermaddie's review against another edition

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3.0

this isn't usually the genre i go for, but i found that i actually enjoyed it quite a bit in the end. tori is an author and a motivational speaker who actually is secretly miserable and stuck in what she doesn't yet realise is an emotionally abusive relationship. i found that the writing does quite a lot of the heavy lifting here; this book would not have been nearly as engaging if tori's voice wasn't so distinct and vibrant. she feels like a believable #girlboss who secretly doesn't believe any of the shit she's peddling, and i actually found her inner monologue a relief. i think that her thoughts, particularly with the "right way" to be a woman, represent the difficulties of knowing the right thing to do/say but being unable to internalise it. like, self love and body positivity is easy to preach on social media, but it's another more private/personal journey to be able to truly believe it off line. i also liked tori's struggle with wanting children: does she actually want kids or does she just feel pressured by all her friends starting to have kids in her thirties?
overall, a pretty decent contemporary fiction about societal expectations, social media, and loving yourself enough to leave.

heathbc's review against another edition

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3.0

I do think this is a good book. I just couldn't stand to be in the protagonist's mindset for 200+ pages and some of the "truths" came across a bit too-packaged. Lately, I've really enjoyed reading novels with flawed, female protagonists coming to the realization that they're in traumatic relationships. Huge shout out for having a 30-something protagonist! I'm now nearing that decade and wanted to find more literature with 30-year-old women who don't conform to their cultures' dominant norms.

Holly Bourne's How Do You Like Me Now? fits perfectly into the character-driven, self-realization genre. But the character, Tori, that we spend the entire novel with in first-person perspective reminded me too much of a girl I knew in high school. I had the hardest time sympathizing with this girl in high school and often felt overwhelmed by her self-depreciating humor and how she used social media to project negative thoughts about other women. I often saw her in Tori which resulted in discomfort as a reader, but not the good kind where your discomfort results in better understanding and empathy. So I'm taking one star off for personal preference. I'm taking off another star for overuse of literary devices. Especially in the first half of the book, I noticed repetition of short noun phrases. These started off as quirky and relatable but ended up being distracting due to their frequency.

Now for a list of positives:
1. I LOVE that Holly Bourne didn't write how much she loved her husband/life partner in the acknowledgements section.
2. What made this novel unique was the nine chapter story structure. Holly Bourne foils the childless protagonist with her best friend who becomes pregnant over the course of 9 chapters/9 months. The one month time skips worked well to show how small changes can lead to a monumental one
Spoileryour amazing best friend having a baby and then basically saying your life's achievements will never equal the amazing experience of having a baby and I'm better than you.
.
2. Whew, that final moment between the two friends was a lot. I'm very glad I didn't have that experience with my own best friend who had a child. Anyway, I can see this book being helpful for readers who also have been in emotionally-abusive relationships and feel the intense societal pressure to mate, marry, and have children.
3. The emotionally-abusive boyfriend's name was Tom. Perfect naming choice. As the author said in her acknowledgements, "I also hope, in a small way, this book can help more Toris leave Toms. You really do deserve better, and Tom’s behaviour really isn’t OK."
4. I felt personally attacked with this description of a kiss "With tongues and heady abandon, like teenagers who aren’t ready to have sex yet." Yep, I can visualize that perfectly.
5. OH wow. And also this. "Who used to pick me up after his late shift and drive me to a car park somewhere and go down on me in the backseat and I had to pretend he was good at it."
6. I'm glad Bourne included in this detail. Anxiety mixed with self-harm urges can look like scratching or picking away at yourself. "When I’m alone, I just start randomly crying, and sometimes I scratch at the skin on the top of my thighs until it bleeds."
7. This was meeeeeeeeeeeeee. "The little girl who lay in this bed and kissed her Spike from Buffy poster every night before bed could never have imagined what this room would become."
8. I'll just leave these highly relatable quotes here:
"The thought of leaving Tom is as bad as the thought of staying with Tom...Part of me wants it only because he’s not willing to offer it. I feel I cannot know if I want Tom until he wants me." (p. 83)
"These days though, Tom doesn’t look at me like that ever. Even if I have his penis encased in my mouth." (p. 144)
"OK. I can’t lose Tom. I’m not sure why, but I can’t lose Tom." (p. 150)
"I cannot leave him. He cannot leave me. Surely anything that hurts this much is the wrong thing? I curl up on the floor, using the bathmat as a blanket, staring at the cobweb behind the base of the loo. This cannot end. I cannot be in this much pain. I don’t care if it’s wrong, I just need to not lose it." (p. 160).
"Also, Tom will get annoyed at me for crying. Again. He says I’m falling apart too often." (pp. 212-213).
9. I want more books that mention having a therapist like this one! Claps for Anne the therapist. We've gotta normalize that. I mean, just look at this exchange.
"‘And you are upset that people subconsciously validate you holding your nephew more than your career achievements?’ Anne asks, making a small note in her book. I nod and I’m not sure why I feel so very much like crying. ‘Yes. Because it means that everything I’ve achieved means nothing unless I have a baby …" (p. 197).
AND this "Anne keeps all her answers bunched close to her chest and only reveals one once I’ve figured it out myself."(p. 199)
10. Bourne addresses the hesitancy to leave their relationship as Tori thinks "which will be so much harder as I’m older and all the good ones are taken." I'm just here to say that a lot of my mom's 50- and 60-year-old women friends are all out there having their Eat, Pray, Love moments and seem to be fine. But yeah, that line of thought that all the good ones are taken is rampant. Maybe that's true. As the older friend Sandy says, dating in your 30s is difficult and hard (understatement). I do like how Bourne includes how it IS ok to want a meaningful, long-term relationship, just not ok to stay in a bad one.

In closing, here's my response to the following discussion question.
Despite Tori and Tom’s relationship being deeply flawed, marriage remains a goal for her. Why do you think this is when there are obvious issues in their relationship?
Because it's the narrative we're programed to want. We need more narratives that show turning 30 and having a child and getting married are not the only ways of having a fulfilling, meaningful life. At the same time, don't put down the women who do find joy in having a child and stable partner. NEVER tell someone that your life choice is better than theirs. That's unfair and cruel. That's putting people into camps just to look down on the other camp i.e. thinking YOU don't have children. YOU don't have a fulfilling career. YOU don't etc... Lot's of surface-level glancing, not enough critical thinking.

niinalukeekirjoi's review against another edition

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3.0

Äänikirja, 11h 6min

lorrietruck's review against another edition

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2.0

A bit bleak really but I read it all in one day.

olivia_21's review against another edition

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dark emotional funny inspiring lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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ge0rgiekate's review against another edition

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emotional funny fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

catriona90's review against another edition

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3.0

A middling kind of book. The story’s not bad and it’s well written. But it’s difficult to empathise much with a main character who is so selfish and vacuous; don’t get me wrong, some of her concerns and worries are entirely valid and I like that side, but she’s so narcissistic it’s actually quite wearing to keep reading her story.

stranger__37's review against another edition

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5.0

Feelings are real. Though I would have liked the ending to extend a bit more.

franceskamadden's review against another edition

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5.0

This book hurts my heart. It's so brutally honest that reading it almost feels uncomfortable but that feeling, it just is so raw and real and relatable. This book is a must read for any woman who is in a long term relationship that may be making you miserable. I loved how Bourne showed the impact of social media and modern technology on relationships and also sex in long term relationships and how it may not always be consensual. I loved this book just as much as I've loved all of her YA books.