Thursday, December 28, 2017

Living the Dream

31848274Emma is a rising star at the marketing firm she works at as a "creative," but would have trouble describing what exactly it is she does all day. She pours most of her actual creative energy into a popular blog that all of her friends agree is brilliant, but she has yet to make a cent on it. Clem is a massively talented screenwriter just back from New York, where she picked up a fancy graduate degree in film. But until she convinces an agent to take on her masterpiece script, she's stuck hostessing at the bar she frequented as an undergrad, and the only calls she's getting are about bills past due and overdrawn bank accounts. In their ironclad friendship both girls find a reliable break from the post-collegiate absurdities and indignities that seem to abound in life right at the moment they feel they should finally be getting it all together.

With a rotating cast of lovably insufferable friends, from Emma's fabulous DJ and ladies man roommate to Clem's painfully ordinary and predictable childhood chum, the girls wind their way through the twists and turns of aging parents and terrible bosses and regrettable one night stands, unforeseen setbacks and blessings that present as anything but, and remind each other that while their ships might not have come in yet, the after work drinks are cold and the company can't be beat.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Lauren Berry's novel, Living the Dream, epitomizes the struggle of millennials: wanting it all and not really knowing how to get it. We have these fancy degrees that someone told us we needed, but now we're not sure how to get where we want to go. Well, Emma and Clementine, the two heroines of this humorous novel, try to forge their own paths to success while their friends cheer them on, repeatedly stumbling but always getting back up. 

Emma and Clementine are best friends but almost polar opposites. Emma dreams of being a creative writer and getting paid for it, while she spends her weekday hours pretending to be all in at a marketing firm and secretly hating it. Though she dreams of quitting and branching out into the world of freelance, or even a steady column, her fear holds her back. How will she pay the bills? Who will feed her? What about the dates with friends that keep her sane? Meanwhile, Clementine knows that she's an amazing screenwriter and is determined not to settle for anything less. Even though she is forced to work at a bar while she waits for her script to be optioned. She knows its wrong to borrow money from her family and depend on Emma for her bar tab, but her perseverance is admirable. She does not give up nor does she back down. 

Through both of their personalities and goals, I think readers will feel a connection to both Emma and Clementine. Though they may relate to one more than the other, these opposites will reflect many experiences, feelings, and uncertainties that we've all had. The 'what next?' universal conflict. The go big or go home complex. Or even the 'let's just dip a toe in and see what happens' trial run. Because of how nerve-wracking it is to try to 'live our dreams' this book offers readers the necessary understanding that it's okay to be scared and it's okay to take our time when making big life decisions and finding out what's right for us. 

Now that I've said that, I will add that there is a bit of a controversial situation in the latter half of the book that could potentially bother some readers. Though this book is obviously pro-feminist and pro-women's rights, basically pro-women in general, I feel like I should mention that there is a character who receives an abortion. Because of the controversial nature of this topic, there may be some female readers who find themselves uncomfortable at the end of this novel. However, that's okay. Though I think most readers will enjoy this book, especially readers who enjoy feminist wit, there will be some who don't agree with the character's decision. I just thought I'd give a little fair warning. 

Overall, the title of this novel represents what this book is about. The two main characters want to live their dreams, but they struggle to get there. Through a myriad of hilarious, sad, and embarrassing situations, Emma and Clem try to achieve their dreams all while helping their friend Yasmin prepare for her wedding. 

Rating: 4/5 Cups

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