Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Review: Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

What if the last person you wanted to see was the person you needed?
Here's Looking At You is, in essence, an ugly duckling tale. Our heroine Anna returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn't hold happy memories for her, as being a roly poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly throughout her years there.
Now in her 30s, Anna wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was - all curves and because I'm worth it hair - and no one recognizes her when she arrives. Losing her cool, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again.
But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James - major hunk and Anna's major crush back at school. But alas, as a crony to the bullies, Anna to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like…
Full of laugh out loud humor, Here's Looking At You is a novel about facing your demons and being happy with who you really are.

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is June 3, 2014.

I am not going to re-tell the story because you can read the synopsis to find out what it is about. Instead I am just going to touch on a few things that explain my rating.

First, this is a story that has been done before but it is being marketed as humorous so I thought I would be in for a few laughs. For the most part this did not happen. Partly I think this is because it didn't translate well. A lot of references to people, things and places were completely lost to me because I had never heard them before. The author is based in Nottingham so it may be common language to her but it was completely lost on me. Unfortunately I think it was in these parts that it was meant to be funny. As the book progressed there seemed to be less language that I didn't understand but it could also be that I was figuring it out as I went along. This would not have been an issue had it not seemed to happen at what I think were suppose to be the funny parts. For me, the only really humorous parts were the occasional emails that Anna would get from Neil, her blind date gone wrong.

This story was also quite long. I felt like it would have been better served with at least 100 pages less. The first 50% of the book really dragged and I contemplated not finishing it. I always see things through to the end so I stayed with it and it did improve in the last half. Anna and James don't even begin a friendship until around 50% and I think it was at 80%  before he figured out who she was from high school. With such a lead up I expected great repercussions but it was fairly anti climatic.

I do give the author props for dealing with the long term repercussions of bullying and the effects it has on people. Although Anna is well beyond her high school years she still deals with the insecurities from those days.

In the end the book was alright but did not live up to my expectations. I am giving it a very generous 3 star rating.

About the Author

 Mhairi was born in Scotland in 1976 and has been explaining how to pronounce her name ever since. (With a 'V', not an 'M'. Yes, that's us crazy Celts for you).

She is based in Nottingham where she used to be a local journalist. Now she's a freelance writer and sometime-blogger, which we all know is code for pissing about on Twitter.

She likes drinking wine, eating food and obtaining clothes; all the impressive hobbies. Her best anecdotes involve dislocating her elbow tripping over a briefcase and a very bad flight to New York. She lives with a man and a cat.

Connect with Mhairi

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