Book Review | Stay Mad Sweetheart | By Heleen Kist
TheWriteReads | Blog Tour | BBNYA Finalist
Narrative and Plot
Stay Mad Sweetheart discusses something that fiction mostly shies away. It shows everyday sexism and how women are ready to accept it because they have better things to worry about. Until, it gets to you. In the MeToo era, this is a story that needs to be told more and read more.
However, the plot had a bit of ups and downs. It kicks off with a bang and you’re in for this nail biting story. But then it gets a bit dragged in the middle and eventually goes back to the original pace. It doesn’t help that the narrative shifts between first and third person for different narrators.
These are however, minor glitches. The core of the story is something you can easily get behind despite what your gender is.
Characters and Conflicts
I really don’t buy the “I am different than other girls” heroines anymore. I used to, but it no longer pulls me in. Which is probably why I found it hard to empathize with the main character Laura. At the same time, it felt easier to root for Emily’s cause and the other female characters like Suki or Claire. The only issue I had is that they were all tolerating it all until they needed something for themselves. I will forever be curious to know if that was a deliberate choice to show how little we actually stand up for things like that. Not that women don’t stand up for themselves but let’s not forget that a large percentage of people still let things go.
When I was in college, a herd of guys ganged up inside the bus around me and started making lewd comments during the entire 12 km duration. This was daytime during working rush with a full bus of officer goers and I was standing near the designated ladies area ( oh yes, we have those). No one helped me. And I was barely eighteen or nineteen. I couldn’t find my voice or react. Basically I was afraid that if I react and say something what if
a) they felt thrilled and indulged?
and b) what if they acid attacked me another day when I was walking alone.
These are genuine fears because we see it everyday. The fear makes us tolerate many injustice. So I know that it is a real reaction. The letting it go approach. But it’s been a decade since then. Technology is on our side too. And even people are more aware today..
Which brings me to the next point. There’s is this technology that is being lauded as the next big thing in the book. Personally I found it as a grave breach of data privacy. Is that just my paranoid mind or did anyone else feel that way?
Another thing was Laura – the main character – lost out because she wasn’t making smart choices. The partner was a shrewd guy. Does gender have to do anything there? It is more a matter of personality. Until, the very end this was nagging me but then the book comes round showing the true colors of the partner. Again, is a revenge like that the right message?
Is that the right way to stay mad, sweetheart? How does one properly manage to bring them under the eyes of law? That’s another spin off I would love to read.
As you can see I felt passionate about this story. And that is more than anything I can say about the book. My rating is mostly based on the fundamental ideological differences rather than the writing. I think this book would make a great Book Club pick. And not just for feminists. It has elements that go beyond gender. Cyber bullying doesn’t confine to one particular section. It can happen to anyone – You or me – anytime. It is a hidden pandemic and I am glad this story shines light on it. For the lovers of the movie Circle starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, this book will be a must read.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review for the BBNYA 2020.