The Bad Mother’s Diary by Suzy K. Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A light-hearted read with a few funny moments and an uplifting feel-good factor.
– It’s a fun enough book that’s well-suited to when you need a light read to perk you up
– The Duffy family are pretty great albeit swamped with clichés e.g. irresponsible young mother ‘who’s just a baby herself’, studious older sister who’s a bit boring but knows exactly what to do in each situation
– The main character felt believable and utterly relatable
– There are no surprises in this book whatsoever, it’s entirely predictable but in a cutesy romance, that’s not necessarily an awful thing.
– The ending is far too rushed and that lets the book down, the book continually references fairytale tropes and happily-ever-afters so you kind of expect this from the very off but the conclusion just wasn’t enough.
– All the male characters in the book are very simply written and are two-dimensional. Their motives are always obvious and their back stories aren’t detailed or particularly interesting.
Extra note: I don’t know how I feel about this as I’m torn between finding it sweet and finding it a bit cringey but in the middle of the book, the author ‘interrupts’ and congratulates you ‘lovely ladies’ on getting that far. At the very end of the book as well, there’s a truck-load of self-promotion promising competition giveaways, an exclusive prequel and, what in my view amounts to emotional blackmail though it did give me a giggle, a note from the author saying, ‘I read ALL my Amazon and Goodreads reviews (and yes, the bad ones do make me cry) and pay special attention to my favourite reviews and sometimes send special gifts as a thank you.’
The last part however, just didn’t sit well with me at all, if an author wants genuine feedback from readers then saying that mean reviews make them cry and that they’ll send gifts to ‘favourite’ reviews just sounds like they’re clutching at straws to make sure they get good publicity and favourable mentions. Okay, so maybe the less cynical person could argue that Quinn is just trying to bond with her readers or something but for me, this just feels unethical and a bit desperate.
Anyway, onto the review.
I picked up this book because it was free on the new Amazon Prime readers programme for Kindle and because I was having a coffee after a stressful presentation and I wanted an easy read to relax with (the last two books I read were super heavy in the religious/murdering/widowhood grief/devil worship department).
As I said above, The Bad Mother’s Diary is an easy read with its predictability, diary format, and humour making it simple to understand – it doesn’t ask the reader to do any hard work whatsoever. This can be a good thing, in my situation it was and I imagine to many readers – particularly those who are busy mums looking for a book to dip in and out of while they’re exhausted and waiting for their child to settle down – it’s part of the book’s main appeal far from it being a drawback.
The plot is cheesy in its obviousness but again, this doesn’t really detract from the book as you keep plodding along with it to see exactly how Jules gets from A to B and the funny struggles she encounters in the meantime. And the struggles are funny – from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have a child, it’s refreshing to see a more realistic view of motherhood away from the Instagram world of avocado smoothie drinkers who jog 5 miles before 6am and have their children enrolled in prep school from the moment they’re born. I’d much rather hear about shitty nappy disasters and a mum’s struggle to do parenting her own way rather than the ways of the people around her. That being said, considering the title – this book doesn’t seem to be centred on motherhood. I’d say the plot was more centred around how a woman copes with hitting rock bottom and then pushing herself to achieve and to find happiness in her life in spite of the critics around her. In that sense, it’s quite an uplifting story, I just wish the focus had been more on that and a bit more attention had been paid to some of the more significant challenges Jules faced – we find out way more about her struggle than we do about her struggles with completing her goals.
The male characters pretty much suck but this is compensated for with how great the female characters are. They’re wholly relatable and though this means they rely on clichés a lot of the time, I guarantee most readers can think of someone in their lives that’s similar to members of the Duffy family, Althea, Clarisse or Helen.
All in all, I probably won’t read this again but if I knew someone who was in a bit of a funk, I’d recommend they pick the book up. Its easiness to read and the diary format meaning you can dip in and out of it without having to pick up lost threads means it’d be a solidly uplifting read for someone having a rough time of things or having problems with concentration.
I plan to keep the sequel in mind for when I next could do with a bit of encouragement and a light-hearted read with a feel-good factor and hope the embarrassing anecdotes of Jules’ struggles with motherhood, weight, and relationships only get funnier.
[MODERATE SPOILER BELOW]
My biggest criticism of the book, though this is a personal one, I’d have much preferred it if it ended with Jules feeling good about herself for one of her biggest achievements rather than it ending really abruptly on a romance story. For me, her overcoming her own personal obstacles was way more interesting and empowering than some guy deciding he does, after all, fancy her. Big whoop – she was awesome all along anyway.
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