When was the last time you put yourself first?
Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Courtney Downey has no idea who she is any more. She has devoted her life to bringing up her beloved 15-year-old daughter Susan, but Courtney just doesn’t get the celebrity-obsessed, Snapchat-filtered teenage world Susan is part of, and they’re growing apart. When Susan announces she wants to live with her dad and his new, younger girlfriend, Courtney is devastated. But could the end of one life be the beginning of another?
When Courtney is offered a job in beautiful, sun-kissed Cornwall, she and her vivacious best friend Claire follow their hearts and leave their problems behind for a summer of sand, sea and second chances. And when she meets sexy but infuriating builder Tony, Courtney rediscovers her passions for life, for cooking and for love.
But just as Courtney is finally looking to the future, a crisis with Susan pulls her back to Dublin, and back into old habits. Will she ever be able to let go of the past and embrace the importance of being herself?
Published June 29th 2017 by Black and White Publishing (UK)
Gosh, if ever a book was the right one at the right time, then The Importance Of Being Me was the one for me. Parts of this book felt like it could’ve been written straight from my own life, as Courtney navigates the tricky world of teenager daughters seemingly drifting away and finding yourself at a certain age and thinking “and now what?”
Thirty Eight year old Courtney Downey is at a crossroads. She’s been offered a job in Cornwall, a place she really loves and something she really wants to do. However, her daughter Susan, is dead set against it. But then, Susan is dead set against everything about Courtney these days, and is spending more and more time with her Dad and his new girlfriend, Mar-Nee. When Susan says she want to go and live with them, heartbroken Courtney is faced with a choice. Is it time she put herself first, and in doing that will she actually get her daughter back?
Ok, so my I’m not planning on moving away from my own, younger teenage daughter, but there was just something so recognisable in this relationship that I connected to Courtney right away. I’ve been having my own difficulties with my teen, and Caroline Grace-Cassidy captured the distancing, frustration, worrying and complete and utter bewilderment I find myself feeling at times. I also really got Courtney’s need to do something for herself and learn who she is again, having recently experienced some similar feelings as my older child left home for uni and my youngest spends less and less time with me.
I loved the relationship between Courtney and best friend Claire. It was just so perfectly written, with the sharing of troubles, laughs, cake and wine. Reading their get togethers and chats felt like I was there with friends myself. I felt pain and frustration for Courtney as Susan shuns her for her Dad’s new partner, and also pretty angry when neither of them backed Courtney up, making her situation with Susan even more difficult in my opinion. There’s a section towards the end of the book that really struck a chord with me, when Susan tells her mum her feelings of anxiety and lack of self esteem, and they discuss social media. This is such a real issue for teenage girls these days, and like Courtney I’ve been finding it difficult to always understand. Caroline Grace-Cassidy explains it beautifully from Susan, and I really took something from this myself.
What I really enjoyed about this book though was the journey of self discovery that Courtney embarks on and thought it was inspiring. When Courtney realises that to make other people happy, she needs to be happy herself, she throws herself into something new and challenging. There’s a romance to enjoy too in this book, and it’s convincing, fresh and one readers can easily get behind. The Importance Of Being Me is an excellent portrayal of modern mother and daughter relationships and a coming of age story for child and parent alike. It’s honest, funny, painful and uplifting all at once and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
(I read an advance copy courtesy of the publisher)