Published: 14th June 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on. Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey? There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot. But Tori Bailey has been living a lie. Everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies – but her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind. When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path. It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for kindly sending me a review copy.
Holly’s debut adult novel, How Do You Like Me Now? begins with a brilliant introduction to the main character, Tori Bailey who is loved by millions thanks to her extremely successful book but truth be told, her life isn’t what she thought it would be. Her career may be taking off but her love life certainly isn’t what she claims it is as she can feel her relationship with Tom slowly drifting away. Within the opening chapter, I laughed so much with Tori and her incredible personality; she was fun, loud, brutally honest and the type of friend that you wished you had in your life, but as she begins to share her daily struggles in life, she became extremely relatable.
“I know why they’re excited and I know why they’re scared. They’re excited because if I can find him. If I can make it work, they can make it work. If magic is real for me, it is real for them.”
As I began to read more about Tori, I started to understand her personality more and she became a character who was I felt I’d known for a really long time. As she progressed through her struggles, she spoke more about her career as her publishers desperately tried to force book two out of her but as the suggestions were continually thrown down her throat, I could feel her walking further and further away from the idea of writing. The one person who she seemed to rely on the most was Dee, her best friend since University and the two of them were absolutely hilarious together – a friendship made in fiction heaven! Yet, when Dee’s life suddenly changes, Tori wonders where her life is going and whether things with Tom will ever change.
“I stand with my fists still clenched and have no idea what I’m feeling, but know it’s a miracle I’m not yet crying. So many parts of me beg me to stop. To smooth this over. To apologise. To tell Tom I didn’t mean it. He will punish me for a few days, sure.”
After a drunken evening with Tom and Dee, Tori lets everything out and I found myself getting a little frustrated with how her feelings weren’t being truly heard and weren’t taken seriously. Shortly after voicing her feelings to Tom, it all calms down and before I could blink, she was sitting in a councillor’s office which threw me off course a little bit as there wasn’t a lot of background information as to how she’d made that decision (do bear in mind that I read an early proof copy so it may have changed). Nevertheless, this really added to the plot as it allowed Tori to truly understand her emotions, how she feels about Tom and where she needs to go next. It was such a realistic element of the story and one which many of the readers will be able to relate to.
“This is the moment where, the choice I’ve been avoiding stands right in front of me, gets up in my face and demands to be made.”
As the narrative steers towards the end, Tori finally makes a decision about her love life and which direction she wants her career to go. It was an empowering, emotional ending but as I read the final page, it was almost as if I could high Tori sighing with relief as the weight lifted from her shoulders. I absolutely adore Holly’s writing and her previous Young Adult books have been nothing short of superb, but when I heard that she’d written an Adult book, I was very interested to see if I would enjoy it as much. Spoiler alert: I did and I’m so pleased that she’s continued to make her main female characters incredibly strong and that she focuses on topics which need to be spoken about more often. Holly wrote the narrative with such ease and the words just captivate you into the crazy, messed up life of Tori and I’m very intrigued to see where she’ll go next…