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‘Really Good, Actually’ book review: Can’t make up my mind

‘Really Good, Actually’ book review: Can’t make up my mind
I have never read a book and been on the fence about it. I have either liked what I’ve read or hated it. Or I’ve thought of it as an okay read, one that was good while it lasted but I wouldn’t really recommend it to people. But ‘Really Good, Actually’ by Monica Heisey has me in two minds. I liked it. I hated it. I found it interesting. But it was boring too, and it dragged on. I wanted to DNF it and end the misery right there, but I also wanted to find out how the main character fared in the end. It was such a confusing time. Was the book Really Good, Actually actually really good or was it not that good? That is the question I have been asking myself for the past couple of days. The story takes us into the chaotic world of Maggie, a 29-year-old Ph.D. student who recently got divorced and doesn’t know how to handle it. She’s unable to move on and she’s struggling financially as well. Life’s not that good. But it must go on. And so, Maggie finds herself dating random men, unable to commit to the one who meets all her expectations, spending money that she doesn’t have (and not checking her credit card bills), and ordering burgers at four in the morning, pretending they are for her (non-existent) dog.

There is a lot to unpack in this novel. Maggie is going through a lot and she’s unable to deal with it. You get to see how that can impact one’s mental health. The protagonist comes across as pitiful and you want to slap her. Does she have the right to disturb others just because she isn’t feeling okay? Then, you see her trying to fix her life and want to give her a big hug (and maybe some money too). But the self-deprecating way in which Maggie speaks of herself, even if it is to distance herself from the pain, makes her come across as whiny and a bit narcissistic.

Heisey, who was a screenwriter for the sitcom ‘Schitt’s Creek, is witty but the subject she’s chosen clashes with her style of writing. While trying to craft Maggie as a hopeless character, Heisey goes haywire and the protagonist comes off as annoying. The story, as real as it feels, gets a bit repetitive when the same thing happens over and over again—Maggie buying clothes she doesn’t need, spending time with friends to forget about her ex-husband, or going on dates just for the sake of it. It feels like an endless loop, without the story going anywhere. But then I wouldn’t really call it a bad book. Marian Keyes, an Irish author I really like, described it as ‘wildly funny and almost alarmingly relatable’. I can see where the appeal lies—the writing is funny and Maggie could easily be you or one of your friends. Some people might actually enjoy it. For me, I guess the book would have been better had it been shorter. Two and half stars Fiction Really Good, Actually Monica Heisey Published: 2023 Publisher: 4th Estate Pages: 376, Paperback