Top critical review
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Hit and Miss
on 3 March 2011
In the first part of the book, Allison Pearson writes perceptively about Petra's teenage years in the seventies, the insecurities, projections, crushes and self-consciousness. Also about peer pressure and the pain of sometimes ambivalent loyalties amongst friends. Didn't we all know a Gillian, the gorgeous (and she knew it) girl we loved to hate?
In the second half (24 years later), there are some curious structural choices which make for much drearier reading. We are told from the beginning that Petra's husband leaves her, yet over the next chapters we have to have an on and off account of their whole relationship. It doesn't move the story on and I felt like saying,'It's ok, we get it!'
Although there are some poignant comments on the mother-child relationship, I never found the other central character of Bill convincing enough. I did welcome the sarky humour of his workmate Chas in contrast. Petra's heartwarming Welsh friend Sharon becomes a bit of a caricature as the story goes on. The route towards the ending feels contrived and therefore not very satisfying. So my copy of the book is going to the charity shop, though judging by the much more enthusiastic reviews, it shouldn't be long on the shelf.