Book Review - Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
The premise revolves around Maggie. A somewhat zaftig, 29 year old red haired young woman whose marriage fell apart after 608 days. Over the course of 377 pages, Maggie tries to figure out what dissolved the marriage, but it's clear (early on) that it was no singular thing.
What transpires is recovery. Recovery from the marriage. From the expectations of family. And the recovery from friends. To me, it never felt burdensome. It feels witty and clever. And just when the book seems to go in one direction, it circumvents expectations with new failings both from new characters and Maggie herself.
The book's tempo also keeps ideas fresh. In one moment it's a traditional narrative. Then we're in text messages or e-mails. Or she'll recollect conversations and cut them off the second they're about to mention pottery. Each of these alternative chapters helps build Maggie's world, and makes Maggie feel more relatable. It also gives Really Good, Actually a momentum that is frequently lacking in books with singular characters.
Even more impressive is if you do this via audio book. The greatest voice of all time, Julia Whalen, captures every nuance of the text. Whether in my car or at the gym, I frequently erupted with fits of laugher or guffaws from Maggie's next terrible decision. And let's be clear, this book works all the time. At least for me it did. Maybe it's that millennial mindset that life is messy and only gets messier. Maybe it's that Maggie feels all too relatable with every passing moment.
Or maybe you won't get it. Maybe it'll feel too long. Too complain-y. Too much. I never felt that way. Bring me all the bathroom threesomes and uncomfortable visits to the psychiatrist. For fans of Ted Lasso or Schitt's Creek or Veep, you'll be in familiar territory here. Forget palatability, this is a powerful voice, and I can't wait to see what author Monica Heisey does next.
Release date: January 17, 2023