Book review: Kind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not by Imbi Neeme

Friday, February 16, 2024 Permalink

I very much enjoyed Imbi Neeme’s 2020 novel, The Spill which featured two sisters and was centred around family relationships and things left to fester. But it has to be said I loved her new release Kind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not even more. It offers readers flawed but very very likeable and engaging characters, including those floating around the periphery and it features a couple of young women going through some life changing moments, negotiated as they try to uncover an old mystery.

Book review: Kind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not by Imbi NeemeKind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not
by Imbi Neeme
Published by Penguin Books Australia
on 20/02/2024
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9781761341069
Pages: 336

Librarian Phoebe Cotton lives with misophonia. The sound of other people crunching an apple, slurping their tea or snapping chewing gum fills her with a rage that she buries deep within.

Mortified by her ‘Not Quite Right’ brain, she hides away inside 6 Salmon Street, the family home that her formidable grandmother Dorothy has abandoned for a more convivial life at the Western Retreat Retirement Village. But when Phoebe begins receiving mysterious postcards in the mail, she slowly, but surely, finds herself being pulled back out into the world and towards Monty, the sweet postal clerk.

Across town, Suze, a university student with a high distinction in study avoidance, is clinging to the hope that the neglectful J might actually be her boyfriend. When J’s attention turns to Ky, it sets Suze on a path that leads her to 6 Salmon Street and Phoebe Cotton.

Together with Suze and Monty, Phoebe goes on a mission to solve the mystery of the postcards but ends up finding much, much more, including acceptance, strength and love.

Lead character Phoebe is the kind of lead character I love. Reminiscent of some of my favourites over recent years, such as Eleanor Oliphant and Lenny Marks.

I actually thought Phoebe’s misophonia was going to feature more, or be more central to the book’s plot and was worried about that. I’m not sure why, just that I was concerned about an emphasis on something perceived as negative. Interestingly I sometimes struggle with the sound of others eating. I only really noticed it first in my mid teens and put it down to the fact I was grappling with anorexia and very very sensitive around food, particularly others making noise when eating. Even now though I sometimes get antsy when someone is crunching nuts or munching an apple around me.

Instead of this being about Phoebe’s misophonia however, we understand how it’s shaped her life and I liked that Neeme doesn’t laden Phoebe with other quirks. Her idiosyncracy is not at all visible to those she meets and she’s learned to avoid situations around food. It has however, of course impacted on relationships given her lack of honesty over the issue.

Suze is our other lead character and she’s under the thrall of a wannabe artist known as ‘J’ when we first meet her. And everyone but Suze thinks J is a huge tosser. From the outside looking in of course he is, but to Suze he’s cool and she believes his inability to commit to her further is because she’s insufficiently cool, or lacking in some way.

It’s Suze who finds the postcards, but J who posts them. And as J is a wanker he doesn’t think of the consequences of his action so many years later.

It’s what brings Suze to Phoebe’s doorstep however and sets them off on a course to find the intended recipient.

I loved the cast of characters here. Phoebe and Suze obviously, but also Phoebe’s love interest Monty and Suze’s flatmates. As well as Phoebe’s parents and her prickly grandmother.

I suspect this will be an underrated book. It offers so much, including delightful characters at pivotal moments in their young lives. And it’s set against the mystery of the postcards and past secrets. I appreciated the challenges the characters face here, in the present and the past, and Neeme handles these gently and deftly. I loved this book and think it will warm the proverbial cockles of readers’ hearts.

Kind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not by Imbi Neeme will be published in Australia by Penguin Books and available from 20 February 2024.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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