by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)
When I picked my next read recently, I knew I needed contemporary fiction. Not literary fiction. Not historical fiction. So, I chose Laura Hankin's new novel Happy & You Know It. This book begins with Claire, a recently dismissed musician from a band that found fame...right after she was dismissed, as she struggles to find her footing in New York City. She finds herself entangled in a playgroup filled with a privileged, yet diverse, array of mothers and their children. What ensues is a wild ride that provides commentary on privilege, motherhood, and being a female.
I really enjoyed the author's ability to shift from perspective to perspective for several of these women. Knowing the motivations of several of the women from the playgroup, helped the overarching plot not seem as straightforward as it may have upon first glance. In addition, although a majority of the women presented in the book came from a place of privilege, it was easy to relate to them in terms of being female and/or being a mother. And that is not an easy thing to accomplish.
If I had one criticism for this book, it would be that at times it seems a bit far-fetched. But ultimately, I was able to overlook that, because I loved the commentary on motherhood and the expectations that abound for women as partners and mothers. Hankin has a unique voice in that she writes these women of privilege realistically and authentically, but also is able to acknowledge that they are, in fact, women of privilege.
In essence the commentary on motherhood and being a women are relatable. At the end of the book, I felt like what I took away is that motherhood and its struggles and triumphs are universal. And while we may look at Instagram Mommygrammers and envy their lives and productivity, often what you see is a far cry from reality. I think this is an important lesson for everyone who consumes social media. But, for me, as a mother, wife, career person, etc. it reminded me that looks can be deceiving, and that motherhood, while rewarding, is an extremely bumpy journey.
I really enjoyed this book. In the age of COVID-19, this was a perfectly paced, plot driven book that I found engrossing and enjoyable. I give it a 4/5. It was not what I expected, but then again, I don't really know what I expected. (Insert shrugging emoji here.)
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