Book Review: “How Hard Can It Be?”
by Allison Pearson

As a mother, Kate thought that she had most things under control until this moment. She did not consider her lack of smartphone awareness  to be a major fault. She remembers that her kids:

“. . . simply could not believe it when, for years, I remained stubbornly loyal to my first mobile: a small, grayish-green object that shuddered in my pocket like a baby gerbil. It could barely send a text message—not that I ever imagined I would be sending those on an hourly basis—and you had to hold down a number to get a letter to appear. Three letters allocated to each number. It took twenty minutes to type “Hello.” The screen was the size of a thumbnail and you only needed to charge it once a week. Mum’s Flintstone Phone, that’s what the kids called it. I was happy to collude with their mockery; it made me feel momentarily lighthearted, like the relaxed, laid-back parent I knew I never really could be. I suppose I was proud that these beings I had given life to, recently so small and helpless, had become so enviably proficient, such experts in this new tongue that was Mandarin to me. I probably thought it was a harmless way for Emily and Ben to feel superior to their control-freak(ish) mother, who was still boss when it came to all the important things like safety and decency, right?

Wrong. Boy, did I get that wrong.”

At Emily’s request, Kate spends most of the rest of the book dealing with the “belfie” crisis—that is the word for taking a photo of your own bottom—without her husband’s help. In fact, almost all major issues, including the need to earn money, are now resting on Kate’s shoulders.

This is what makes this book so universal: it is a recognized fact that while both sexes have difficulty with the midlife transition, women rarely have the luxury of putting the world on “pause” while they consider their options. Life has a way or steaming ahead anyway, and if women don’t continue steering the ship, one of these many storms might just sink the whole boat.

Allison Pearson’s knack for finding the humor as well as the pathos in these storms is what makes her writing such a pleasure. You may feel like you are reading a description of your own problems, but instead of causing more anxiety, How Hard Can it Be offers up wonderful comic relief. And while the various solutions to Kate’s crises may, no matter how hard won, seem a little too good to be true, there is vicarious pleasure in knowing that for some there are calmer days to come.




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