I’ve been working my way through my NetGalley digital stack of ARCs these past few weeks, which means tearing my way through a lot of so-called “chick-lit” [insert my rant about this terminology here]. This week’s book is Whatever Happened to Vicki Hope’s Back Up Man? by Laura Kemp. (Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review).
This one took me back to my youthful days of tearing through all of the Brit lit I could find (the Mates, Dates and Georgia Nicholson series in particular). I enjoyed revisiting this obsession with the added bonus of having spent time in the UK as a college student. That said, I had mixed feelings about this book overall.
This is largely due to my usual love/hate relationship with the childhood best friends in love trope. Oh, childhood best friends in love trope, how I love to hate you and hate that I love you.
In this instance, Vicky Hope asked her friend Mikey if he would be her “back up man” and marry her when they were 30 if both of them were still single. 30 seems like a bit young to give up and cash in on your back up man, but hey, to each their own.
Due to some complicated stuff that unravels over the course of the novel, the time jump o age 30 finds them estranged–they haven’t spoken since shortly after the back up man conversation.
Things I liked about this book:
It took what could have been a simple best friends reconnect and find spark that was always there story and draws it out into more. Vicky–now Vee–isn’t just out to find a love to replace the man who left. She’s trying to put her life back together now that she realizes she let her partner take control of it.
There’s also the complexity of Vee’s relationship to her friend Kate that adds more plot than just her re-connection with Mikey–now Murphy.
I like that there was some mystery around why the friends had lost touch. The changing perspectives also added a little something different to this story, allowing us to really get to know each character’s story intimately.
Things I didn’t like:
I didn’t know why everyone had to have changed their names. It seemed like a bit of an over-dramatic way to say they’d all changed since they were younger. We all change, but is it likely that three people in the same friend group would all have changed their names? Maybe I’m just bitter there’s no good way to re-brand the name Amanda unless you want to be Mandy (which was my parents’ dog’s name when I was born, so no go).
Argh, Vee and Murphy suddenly fitting together like a puzzle. Argh the always secretly having pined after one another. Some cliche bits were in prime cliche form in this one, for sure.
I found some aspects a bit predictable, which made the suspense a little less fun for me.
And (spoiler) the kid thing was weird. Probably just me. But. Yeah. They all got over that one a bit too easily.
Overall, I enjoyed this read. The suspense of unraveling what happened in the past coupled with the delicate momentum of the complicated new relationships kept me reading through this one quick. If you want a nice, dramatic quick read with a love story angle, I say go for it. Bonus points if you also love a good story that takes place in the UK.
(P.S. as of this posting, the book is only $1.99 on Kindle, so… I’d say it’s definitely worth that!)