I opened this book nervously. I’m not usually a chick lit fan and have struggled with the genre in the past. And… I think of the author—Joanne (Jo) Tracey—as a virtual friend and kindred spirit. We haven’t met but I’m a fan of her blog(s) and she seems like someone I’d really like in real life.
However, I needn’t have been worried as I LOVED her debut book, Baby It’s You.
In fact I enjoyed the book so much I read it in a sitting—changing dinner plans part-way through their preparation!
Emily, Josh (Booth) and Suse are best friends who met when working together a long time ago. Suse’s now married with kids and a high-flying career while Emily and Booth continue to work in the same software / IT company.
We initially meet all three at their regularly Friday night drinks. They’re talking bucket lists and Booth is trying to convince Emily to join him in his attempt at a half marathon. It’s on his bucket list he says. Both Booth and Suse have bucket lists and are shocked avid list-maker Emily doesn’t have one. Although she eventually confesses, while she doesn’t have a to-do-before-I-die list, she has her dreams.
She’s just not sure they involve her boyfriend Craig. He’s talking about living together and happily ever after, but she’s not sure they’re a good fit. They hate each other’s friends and it’s pretty obvious to everyone around them their relationship is about to implode, rendering Emily’s Craig-related pros and cons list redundant. But it’s not only Em’s relationship causing her angst, she’s feeling a bit stale in her career and wants a change.
Emily’s passion for second-hand and vintage clothes proves fortuitous when she discovers a bucket list in the pocket of an old coat. The list—and the coat—are seemingly made just for her. Although the list does require a bit of tweaking!
And just as Emily’s considering life-changes, a handsome and flirty newcomer at work seems to be offering everything she wants in a man.
Emily is very Bridget Jones-esque. Albeit a more evolved, adult and less-annoying Bridget. On many levels she also felt like a slimmer, more attractive, confident and sexually active version of me. I chuckled at her antipathy towards cooking and home maintenance, cos… HELLO?! Oh, and I love lists!!!
There’s a scene in which Emily’s prepared a lengthy list (running sheet) in the lead up to a dinner party and I wondered if it was supposed to be funny or weird, cos I do the same thing ALL OF THE TIME.
I loved all three lead characters, particularly Emily and Booth. Their witty banter felt very authentic and I thought I could easily be listening to their conversation in a bar somewhere. In the beginning they seem destined to be together and the will-they / won’t-they tension almost killed me!!!
I also loved Emily’s relationship with her mother—particularly the fact they were very different but so supportive of each other.
The book’s well-written and Joanne manages a familiar and easy tone which I’m accustomed to from her blog.
I’m constantly saying that I struggle with romances and this is very much a modern-day romance, but it is also so much more. It’s about trust and loyalty; and it’s about friendships and how they change as we do. Or not.
Joanne inserted a couple of backstories into conversations—one about Emily’s childhood and one about Josh’s marriage break-up—that I felt didn’t quite fit, as such good friends would already know that stuff. I felt Emily’s penchant for planning and stability and Booth’s habit of dumping his friends when in a relationship could perhaps have been explained differently.
But, that’s such a tiny thing in an excellent debut book which manages to share the author’s love of Melbourne, music, food, bucket lists and Bali and which will certainly appeal to a broad range of readers.
Despite some initial interest from publishers, Jo’s decided to go down the self-publishing route. I’m hoping to include an interview with Jo about the process in the next week or two.
Baby It’s You by Joanne Tracey is now available.
I received a copy of this book via the author for review purposes.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.