#BookReview – Absolutely Smashing It by Kathryn Wallace

“SAM! AVA! Get downstairs, NOW. Have you done your TEETH? HAIR? SHOES? Come on, come on, come on, we’re going to be bastarding late again. No, I haven’t seen Lego Optimus Prime, and nor do I give a shit about his whereabouts. Sam, will you stop winding your sister up and take this model of the Shard that I painstakingly sat up and created for you last night so that I wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. I mean, so that you wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. No, it doesn’t smell of ‘dirty wine’. Well, maybe it does a little bit. Look, Sam, I haven’t got time to argue. Just hold your nose and get in the car, okay? AVA! TEETH! HAIR! SHOES!”

Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face.

But Becky is very persuasive and before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. Not only that, but Gemma has to manage her attraction to her daughter’s teacher, Tom, who has swapped his life in the City for teaching thirty six to seven year olds spelling, grammar, basic fractions – and why it’s not ok to call your classmate a stinky poo-bum…

It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough. 

Published 7 March 2019 by Sphere (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

I’ve read some emotional and heartbreaking books recently, loving every single word of them, but definitely ready for something a bit lighter. So Absolutely Smashing It was a timely read for me, being one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.

I’m well known for loving a good old sob, and to be honest, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. But laughing is another matter – maybe I’m just waaaay too serious, but it’s rare for a book that promises to have me laughing out loud to actually achieve that. But Kathryn Wallace’s debut did just that within the first few pages. Warm, witty and genuinely comedic (while being scarily true!), her depictions of the chaos in the life of working single mum, Gemma’s, less than perfect life were at once funny and scarily recognisable!

I connected with this lovable, scatty character immediately, having been a single parent to two myself for a good few years. The book begins with Gemma preparing for back to school after the summer holidays, having left everything until the last minute. YES! this is me, despite my best intentions, somehow six weeks rush by in the blink of an eye. Last year we had the great school skirt disaster, where there was literally nothing that would be in anyway decent left ANYWHERE. I was also giggling in recognition at a sleepless night spent constructing the model set as homework while a forgetful child slept peacefully.

i also loved the relationship between Gemma and Becky, which devolpes when Becky moves in next door. Where Gemma is struggling to balance work and raise a family, Becky is finding life as a stay at home mum and wife difficult and is desperate to get back to work. The two characters bounce of each other, and despite the humour, the author manages to capture the challenges and pressures of raising children and being a mother whether you work or stay home, or whether you’re a single or married.

Kathryn Wallace has created some very endearing characters, and I defy anyone not to fall in love with Gemma’s crazy and unique daughter Ava or wish for a Mr Jones as their own child’s teacher. Absolutely Smashing It is a fun, thoroughly enjoyable book, effortless to read and perfect for those times when you just want sheer entertainment and a book to make you laugh out loud.  I absolutely LOVED it.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher)