Monday, February 15, 2021

Book Review: The Juggle

By Jami Denison

It may be unfair, but any book centered around a mother who’s trying to balance kids and career will be compared to the grandmother of Mom Lit, Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It. Although it’s been more than twenty years since I attempted this high-wire act myself, I loved Pearson’s book (and especially its sequel, How Hard Can It Be?) so much that I’ll look at any novel with a similar plot. (I may be the only person looking forward to the COVID versions of this story.) My latest read in this genre, Emma Murray’s The Juggle, doesn’t have the gravitas of Pearson’s work, but it’s an enjoyable escape all the same. 

In a suburb of London, writer Saoirse’s biggest worry is her unspoken competition with the “Organics” – the judgmental ubermums at her four-year-old daughter Anna’s school. But when her husband David loses his job, Saoirse steps in as the main breadwinner by agreeing to ghostwrite a book with eccentric inventor Sebastian. The fifty thousand pounds he fronts her seems like a windfall—but if she can’t produce the book, she has to give it all back. Soon enough, Saoirse realizes that Sebastian’s world-changing invention is more revolting than revolutionary. Will she be able to write the book anyway?

The Juggle is a quick, fun read. It didn’t infuriate me the way I Don’t Know How She Does It did—mainly because David is a good husband and father, and his relationship with Saoirse is filled with love and laughter. But because that relationship isn’t a source of conflict, the book does feel a little unfocused. Similarly, Saoirse’s job with Sebastian represents only a portion of the novel. Saoirse spends a lot of time getting involved in other people’s dramas, such as her best friend Bea’s issues, David’s dealings with his adoptive and birth mothers, the Organics and other school mums, etc. Since the title implied that the book would center around the work/motherhood conflict, I was a little disappointed in all the tangents. 

Before I picked up the book, I wasn’t aware that The Juggle was actually a sequel to Murray’s first book, Time Out. And it does read like a sequel, as many important events that happened in the back story are referenced. Readers who are interested in Murray’s work may want to start with Time Out before reading The Juggle. Either book will be a good escape from the chaos of COVID.   

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Emma Murray is originally from Co. Dublin and moved to London in her early twenties. After a successful career as a ghostwriter, she felt it was high time she fulfilled her childhood dream to write fiction.

Visit Emma online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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