In this sequel to her bestseller I Don't Know How She Does It, protagonist Kate Reddy is pushing 50 and struggling with menopause, a husband in the throes of a midlife crisis, a daughter who likes to send "sexts," and a lackluster return to the work force.
Pearson is fiercely funny and keenly observant. But it is her poignant and powerful statements about serious topics like aging, the invisibility of older women and the impact a paycheck has on a woman’s psyche that make this novel a must-read ... How Hard couldn’t be more timely or delightful, as Kate faces the hormonal and hiring cliff that is turning 50, a marriage moping into midlife, parenting in the social media era and an office culture that is ripe for a Me Too moment.
The book’s cover offers fair warning of the explicit content inside: 'Teenage kids. Ageing Parents. Marriage in Meltdown' ... The rest is by turns funny, sad — and very explicitly menopausal. While the queasy might find there is too much pain, blood (and forgetfulness) in these pages, there is a raw honesty about this part of Kate’s story, highlighting as it does the debilitating physical and mental toll of the menopause that has so often been hidden or silenced, that it serves only to elevate some of the book’s more contrived plot lines and humour.
This novel is filled with smart insights into aging parents, female friendships, tricky family dynamics and failing marriages, while too easily lapsing into women’s magazine jargon (enough with the Sandwich Generation). And at 372 pages, it is decidedly overlong. Not only does Kate write much of Emily’s essay on Twelfth Night, but we have to read it — a chapter’s worth, complete with Mom’s not-terribly-fresh psychological insights. Pearson also assigns nicknames tiresomely — Dr. Libido of Harley Street prescribes Hormone Replacement Therapy for perimenopause, which becomes 'Perry and the Menopauses.' And Kate’s imaginary sidekick, Roy, who aids her faulty memory, is more tedious than amusing. Mostly, though, Kate makes good company, and you can’t help rooting for her.