How to be a Grown-Up

Originally published October 2015

Some weekends require a little chick-lit.

After reading a beast of a book in Jonathan Franzen’s “Purity” and staring down several more heavy duty reads (City on Fire, Golden Age—the third in Jane Smiley’s trilogy, John Irving’s latest) this fall, I wanted to finish off a book in a single weekend. Something light, but interesting, funny, but easy to relate to.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the minds behind “The Nanny Diaries,” offer up this—”How to be a Grown-Up.” Chick lit, for sure, and not too taxing to the brain, but entertaining enough that you’ll want to read from start to finish, if only to see if there’s a happily ever after.

“Grown-Up” is all about Rory McGovern—a 41-year-old wife and mother of two, married to a dimming Hollywood star in Blake, trying to eek out an interior design/stylist career. When Blake’s acting opportunities seem to dry up, Rory takes it upon herself to nab a full-time job working for an Internet startup—a lifestyle website for kids, a la Goop. It’s written to be a little ridiculous, because it is, but also not outside the boundaries of reality, either.

With a bitch-on-wheels for a boss, Rory is just trying to master website startup lingo when she’s broadsided by another life crisis—an unstable marriage. New job, two kids, trying to hang on to a rent-controlled apartment, trying to save her marriage. Can Rory navigate it all? It’s up to the reader to find out.

As I mentioned earlier, the story line is entertaining enough to pull you in and the book short enough that it’s no big time commitment to finish it. That said, I found Rory’s reaction to her husband’s abandonment wildly unrealistic-at least for me. Then again, given the way she first hooks up with him, I was kind of surprised she married him at all.

Also, Rory’s relationships with her two friends, Claire and Jessica, seem criminally underused. What could have been a great story about how girlfriends hold each other up went unexplored. A story for another time, perhaps.

Definitely one worth throwing in your library queue and taking on a weekend road trip or saving for a snow day this winter.

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