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Book Review: Happy & You Know it (+ a note on diversity in literature)

After three less traditional posts for this blog (this, this, and this), which veered away from the cooking/restaurant/book content typically found here, I suppose it’s time to return to my standard content schedule. PLEASE NOTE: that doesn’t mean recent issues are not constantly on my mind; my approach to this book review is an example.

It felt a bit strange reading Happy & You Know It, which leans into fluffy, chick lit territory, when there were protests happening outside my window. A book about wealthy UES mommies felt frivolous. And it was. It felt wrong and inconsiderate to be reading about first world problems in the midst of serious unrest in our country. But since this was published before recent events occurred, it gives you a good idea of how things were operating before people were looking. Does this novel pass the Bechdel Test? Does it pass a not-yet-named test that looks at characters/conversations between POC?

Here’s the plot: 20-something Claire has just been ejected from her band whose song is now playing on every radio station without her. Broke and unwilling to go home to her megachurch family, she takes a job as a private music teacher for an UES playgroup. She finds herself charmed by Manhattan’s mommy elite and doesn’t even hate them for their perfect lives. She soon bonds with Whitney, a budding Instagram influencer and hostess with the mostess, and badass executive Amara. These women seem to have it all and just being around them helps Claire get her life back in order. But perhaps these women don’t actually have it all together…

This book reads like a movie – in a very fun way. While the race of two main characters is confirmed (one is black, the other white), the racial identity of the remaining characters is left up in the air. If this were a movie, I’d love to see some diverse casting. This book doesn’t really address racial issues, but it’s important to note that it features a confident, powerful, cool, and enviable POC as a central character. This is the kind of thing I always look for when choosing books and I take this lens to all of my reading because representation matters – currently, approximately 1/3 of my reading stars a POC as a primary character. That ratio could be better, but it’s not terrible. Do I call out race in my reviews? No. Perhaps I should. Or perhaps you just want to know that this book is a fun romp with humorous characters that you’ll breeze through. And the fact that I felt utterly satisfied with each character’s post-script is a feat – one that makes me want to recommend this book.

4 out of 5 stars.

Pair with: Wölffer No. 139 rosé cider, served in the bottle with a decorative straw and adorable cocktail napkin

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