How to be Second Best- Book Review
Author: Jessica Dettmann
Genre: Contemporary, Australian, women’s, humour
My rating: ★★★★★
Release Date: Published 17th December, 2018 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 362 pages
What did I think?
“I should have a slogan: Emma Baker – she’s what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
How to be Second Best is a novel with an endearing main protagonist, a Bridget Jonesie feel (based on the movies – I haven’t read the books yet), and some fine, fine writing.
Emma is a thirty something editor working from home to enable her to look after her school-aged son, kindy-aged daughter – and the daughter that her husband fathered with his pilate’s teacher. Mm. So, that is the setup. Emma can be snippy, but she’s also a pushover. In some respects, I get it. How far do you go to make things okay for your kids? It’s murky sometimes. Especially if you’re suffering because your husband lied to you and your marriage blew up. Things can get a bit confusing.
To soften the blow of the serious and painful sounding plot, the book was funny. Not always side-splitting, but in a way that kept me buoyant throughout. Then again, Troy’s birthday party – a scene fuelled by alcohol, bitterness and confusion – was as funny as it was wrong. And it was fairly wrong. It was at that point that I decided they must make the book into a film. I would also read a follow up novel to find out what happens to Emma after this.
There were a bunch of wonderful secondary characters for me to like…and hate. Emma’s father and sister were supportive, blunt and kept a dash of annoying about them which kept things interesting, and the kids were sweet. On the antagonists side there was the ex-husband, Troy, and his new wife, Helen, and another who I won’t name. Dettmann really did a marvellous on the characters.
You know, Emma’s mistakes ranged from ‘teeny-tiny’ to ‘quite the doozy’ and it would have been easy to get fed up with her but I never did. She remained likable on her journey to find direction and security and I won’t tell you how it ends but I will say it was heartwarming. I was a happy reader.
This may not go on my all-time favourites list, but I’m giving it five stars because it was so good and I truly have no complaints. Not a one.
I will look out for more by Dettmann.