Monday, September 13, 2021

Book Review: The Juggle

By Sara Steven

It was only a blip. Just a little mistake. But in the world of television, Dan Whitehead’s little slip could cost him his career. 

His only chance is to swap roles with his wife, Molly, who works part-time behind the scenes at the show. It’s just for a few weeks. Easy. What’s so hard about looking after their twins and taking a step away from the limelight for a bit? Only, it’s not quite as simple as Dan may think. With more time, his past begins to haunt him. Then, when a friendly school-mum makes him an offer he can’t refuse, is she everything she seems?

Meanwhile, Molly is more than happy in her hoodie and yoga leggings - not that she ever does yoga. She’s more of a stay at home and listen to self-help kind of girl. Why would she want to go back on-screen when she doesn’t even like leaving the house? But she needs to save her husband’s job, after all, it is all her fault. Then, when she’s offered an exclusive interview on the other side of the world, her life in Cherry Blossom Park is under threat. Why is she the only person to ever be offered this interview? Dan must never know the truth.

The Juggle is more than just a story about parents keeping everything in the air. It’s about secrets from the past and hopes for the future. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

There are two polarizing personalities at play within Molly and Dan’s marriage, with Dan being the frontrunner, the one who seeks the limelight, while Molly prefers to hide away in the shadows, convinced she wouldn’t be good enough to be on-screen, anyway. It wasn’t always that way, though. Flashback moments provide a lot of important background information into the eventual breakdown of who Molly used to be, before the husband and the kids. It was something I could really relate to, as a wife and mother, too. Dan’s mistake becomes her potential step back into a life she hasn’t lived in years, and the whole prospect of it seems daunting.

Dan has a lot of secrets. At first, I wondered if The Juggle would focus primarily on this couple’s eventual decline from the way they once were, but Dan’s secrets paralleled the premise perfectly. On top of the secrets are the strange and unusual activities that are happening in Cherry Blossom Park, and when Dan finds himself caught up in the middle of it all, it threatens his self-identity, as well as his marriage and family. While I had a pretty good hunch as to what was going on behind the scenes, I appreciated the way it all unfolded for the reader, dodging us down one potential hypothesis to the next. 

Dan isn’t the only one with secrets. Molly’s exclusive interview involves someone from her past that Dan has no idea of, which went against the type of character Molly appears to be. I really liked that. If nothing else, no one can pigeon-hole Molly into being something that she ultimately isn’t. Or, maybe she is? That became one of the larger questions that needed answered, since Molly doesn’t think very highly of herself, compared to how everyone else around her feels about her. It made me wonder if the biggest interview of her life and career would have the expected results we might expect, or if it would stir up more trouble. 

I’ll be honest: due to various reasons, I read The Juggle in one day! I don’t ordinarily do that. But, what started as an innocent peek into Molly and Dan's stories, turned into an hours-long bender into the night, and into the morning, too. It kept me engaged, and given the way the dialogue and scenes are set up, I wanted to keep going. It was an intimate look into self-identity and self-worth, and worthy of the five stars I’ve given it!

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

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

*This novel is part of a series but can be read as a standalone.

Ellie Barker is a television reporter and presenter. The Juggle is her second book. She lives in Bristol with her husband, two sons, and a Labrador named Cookie. 

Visit Ellie online:
Website * Facebook 

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