Monday, 6 July 2015

Reviewed: I Will Marry George Clooney (...By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom.







I Will Marry George Clooney (...By Christmas) was published by Arrow on October 9, 2014.


Thanks to the publisher for approving me for a copy of this book on Netgalley.



I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) is a book title that demands your attention and having loved No-One Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, I was definitely looking forward to reading another Tracy Bloom novel. What I love about Tracy’s writing is that she chooses to focus on less than conventional themes and characters and so you know you’re probably not going to read another story like them. I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) is no different. Michelle is stuck in a rut. She’s constantly arguing with her fifteen year old daughter Josie, who is obsessed with her boyfriend Sean and not at all impressed by her mother and the way she lives her life. Michelle hates how quickly her daughter is growing up and, not being a fan of Sean, is quite desperate to stop them having sex. At her lowest moment, Michelle, hilariously and somewhat worryingly, comes to the conclusion that George Clooney is the answer. Marrying George Clooney that is. And so she strikes a deal with Josie. If she can get George Clooney to marry her, no matter how unlovable her family tell her she is, before Christmas and Josie’s sixteenth birthday, then Josie won’t sleep with her boyfriend. Of course Josie agrees. How likely is it that her mum will marry George Clooney? And so the wacky but very entertaining story begins.

I’m so torn on this review because this book was, for me, broken down into two parts – one which I loved and one which was a bit painful to read. Negative part first, and I don’t mean to be cruel when I say it was painful, but I genuinely winced every single time the relationships between Michelle and her mother and Michelle and her daughter were explored. Both mum and daughter are incredibly nasty to Michelle, they were seriously horrible, never missing a chance to put her down and make her feel even more down on herself than she already was. Sure, Michelle wasn’t perfect (who is?) – she was a bit scatty and in a bit of a dreamland at times – but there was no way in a million years that she should have been getting all that abuse. I liked how Tracy chose to focus on their relationships, and how George Clooney had suddenly become the person needed to fix all their problems, but I didn’t like what was happening, especially not the way Kathleen treat her daughter Michelle. She was insufferable, nasty and spiteful. She said the meanest things and kept comparing Michelle, unfairly, to her sister who died many years ago. I hated Kathleen, really I did.

I didn’t hate Michelle’s daughter Josie but I did think she treat her mum badly too. In a way, she was just the typical teenage girl, more interested in boys than her family and I guess most teenagers think their parents, (or in Josie’s case her mum since she doesn’t know who her father is), are totally embarrassing. There’s sometimes that naivety with people Josie’s age which makes them act like they hate their mums when really they’re just being a bit stroppy and occupied with younger, cooler people and falling in what they consider love. But Josie pushed things that bit further and was very cutting. Even though I felt the use of these relationships grounded the book so it wasn’t just focusing on the crazy (but fun) story to marry George Clooney, I did find all the hate and put-downs a bit draining. I love Tracy Bloom’s writing for her humour and for the first 100 pages or so of this book, the tone was just too serious. There was wit but it wasn’t having the desired effect on me because everything else was so harsh.

What I did love about this book was Michelle. Not for the obvious reasons. She wasn’t the best role model, she wasn’t the most bubbly, the easiest to like character. But I loved how she was on this mission to marry George Clooney and she wasn’t planning on letting anything get in her way. She even went on a trip to Italy to chase her man. I found it so funny that at times Michelle did seem to really, honestly believe that she could marry George Clooney. And so I found myself thinking about what could possibly happen if and when she met George and I guess I got transported along with the madness of this story. I loved the gall of her character, to make the decision to stop sitting back and moping, to head out all the way to Italy to chase her dream and to find George. Everything about the trip was ridiculous and far-fetched but in the best way possible because the hilarity kept me hooked and the more ludicrous things got, the funnier I found the story. Tracy’s wit is something else and she can be relied on to make you forget about your own life for a good few hours and enjoy giggling at someone else’s.

There were two minor characters in this book who I really liked. One being Gina, a friend of Michelle’s. Maybe Gina could have tried to talk Michelle out of some of her mad ideas, maybe that would have been the sensible thing to do but I liked how Gina wasn’t sensible. She was buoyed by anything humorous and I didn’t find that she was laughing at Michelle, more trying to help put a smile back on her face. Gina really made things interesting and amusing and I would have liked to see her involved more. My favourite character who I really wanted to see more from was Little Slaw, Michelle and Gina’s colleague who was super cute and the language barrier through his broken English made him all the more endearing. I don’t even know why, really, but I loved him and his little pep talks and attempts at encouragement. Also how he tried so hard to understand Michelle’s choices even when they really did make no sense.

There’s a lot of wit to this story but also a more sensitive side. The relationship between Michelle and Josie, for one, which suggests maybe the impact of Josie not having a father is actually bigger than even she had realised. Then there’s the emotional journey Michelle goes on this book through her family issues, the grief for her dead sister, the sadness and hopelessness she feels in her own life, the desire she has to prove herself to all the people who look down on her and treat her like she’s good for nothing. Whatever was happening, I found myself rooting for Michelle and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the ending but it was a satisfying way to finish and I think I’m kind of going to miss the insanity of this book now it’s over. Maybe.


A story of two halves - part draining, family hatred, part hilarity and the maddest form of escapism.







4 comments:

  1. this sounds like it could be a good read! xx

    em @ afternoonbookery.com x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a lot of fun, especially towards the end xx

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  2. I think I'm the scatty person in this book. Mmmmm George clooney x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In that case you need a copy of this book! x

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