Genre: girl i don’t even know, it says it’s meant to be a humorous thriller but it fails in both those categories
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Pages: 304, hardcover
A wedding weekend spirals out of control in this bold, electrifying, hilarious novel about the complexities of female friendship
Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. When Robin came out, Ellie was there for her. When Ellie’s father died, Robin had her back. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honor, she is reluctant. A queer academic, Robin is dubious of the elaborate wedding rituals now sweeping the nation, which go far beyond champagne toasts and a bouquet toss. But loyalty wins out, and Robin accepts.
Yet, as the wedding weekend approaches, a series of ominous occurrences lead Robin to second-guess her decision. It seems that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. Perhaps even Ellie herself.
Manically entertaining, viciously funny and eerily campy, So Happy for You is the ultimate send-up to our collective obsession with the wedding industry complex and a riveting, unexpectedly poignant depiction of friendship in all its messy glory.
The dustjacket summary calls this a “satire”, but I’m not entirely certain Laskey manages to pull that off. I got to 101 pages when I decided my unease with how Laskey was portraying Robin and her group of “rabid feminist” friends was a good enough reason to quit reading, in addition to me skimming the end and seeing Robin call herself a “rage-a-holic” for getting upset and angry when people have bigoted opinions (or as the book tries to calls it, “opinions different from hers.”)
The thing is, up until that point in the novel, Robin hadn’t gone out of her way to seek out bigoted opinions. The biggest example I can think of is when she’s teaching her feminist studies class and she’s pushing her students to think critically about, you know, feminist theories. The thing she’s paid to do. (I just now caught on to the fact that Laskey made Robin a college professor trying to teach her students about so-called “liberal ideas”, a.k.a. an accusation Republicans love to throw at colleges. This is icky to me.)
There’s also a bit where Ellie is stated as feeling like she “can’t say anything right around [Robin’s] friends” and Robin backs this up because Ellie asked a trans friend of Robin’s if he’d “fully transitioned” yet. The way it’s written, we’re made to think both parties are at fault and being ridiculous — but moreso Robin’s, because how dare they hurt Ellie’s feelings by being like, “Uh, maybe don’t ask that right off the bat?”
The ending makes it seem like both Ellie and Robin have huge flaws, but I dunno, y’all, wanting people to be treated equally and seen as human and getting upset when others hold opinions that view those people as less than isn’t really a huge flaw to me! There’s also nothing wrong with being friends mainly with people who share your opinions. If you view me as deserving of less rights than others simply because I’m queer, or fat, or a woman, or whatever, I don’t really want to hang out with you. If that makes me a rabid feminist, oh well!
I don’t know, maybe I’m being overly critical here, but with the severe feminist backlash we’re in the middle of, I think writers need to be a little more careful about what portrayals they put out in their books. I’m not saying don’t write it entirely. But really ask yourself what you’re hoping to accomplish with it, and if it does more harm than good.
Any commentary Laskey tried to make about the wedding industrial complex were sort of lost in my uneasy feelings about the treatment of Robin and her friends. So, in the end, maybe this just wasn’t for me.