Pick of the Day

Something Tragic by Jessica Yeh

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆★ There are some books that hold you in a thrall of emotions that they create long after you’ve finished them. You have emotions...

No Experience Required by Kimberly Cooper Griffin

⭐⭐⭐★

The back cover synopsis of this book is impressively incorrect and does monumental disservice to the lovely Jane Mendoza with the statement ‘Everything’s perfect until Izzy tells her she’s bipolar and Jane leaves her, claiming the dreaded “It’s not you, it’s me."’

At 47, Izzy Treadway, a technical writer in a software company, has had just one real relationship in her life during her college days. That relationship ended badly and Izzy’s subsequent actions led to the discovery that she is bipolar. Medication, therapy, running and controlled schedule are the four cornerstones of Izzy’s ability to keep her condition in check. Surprisingly, despite no personal experience with romantic relationships, Izzy rocks at giving advice to others about keeping their love life on track. A throwaway idea from her best friend sets Izzy on a mission to write a self-help advice book, An Idiot’s Guide to Love. Jane Mendoza, a professor, is interning in the same office for the summer to understand the program better. Breathtakingly clueless Izzy seems to be especially blessed in the attracting-hot-women department and not only is the gorgeous Jane attracted to her, but she even gets out of her comfort zone and fights against her natural shyness to make the first move with Izzy.

The author does a thorough job of explaining Izzy’s condition, her internal workings, hopes and fears. Yet, we didn’t particularly like Izzy for most of the book. However, by the end of it we didn’t actively dislike her either. Some things however, just didn’t jell. Izzy did not at any point seem of behave her age. She seemed decades younger than the 47 she is supposed to be. Ditto her best friend at work. Also, for a person who has had no experience with relationships, Izzy is remarkably confident, if not a little cocky, about her sexual prowess. This was even more strange because at one point in the book she is shown to be helpless and out of her depth in an interaction with a woman who was taking an awful lot of physical liberties with Izzy despite Izzy having said ‘no’. Then there is the fact that Izzy doesn’t tell Jane about her condition for months. She doesn’t tell Jane even after Jane has moved in with her. In fact, she ensures that she hides her medicines from Jane. That smacks of cheating. The decision to keep Jane in the dark is especially weird since Izzy has told her friend about being bipolar and her entire family (roughly fifty people) know about it and encourage her to confide in Jane.

Jane is what really saves the book. She is hot, open, willing to go out on a limb and somehow very real. Even her incomprehensible compulsion to be nice to her parents seems more conditioning and slightly tragic rather than making her weak in any way.

This book straddles a space between a being a romcom and something more serious (given that the protagonists are dealing with a mental disorder and paternal homophobic physical violence). One of the best things about the book is that at the end we feel that this couple will really be happy together because they seem to have got their shot together and have learnt how to be a couple that communicates and cares for each other.

⭐⭐⭐★

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