Book Review | Endearingly Frustrating Characters are Kinsella’s Specialty

Dial Press · February 2019 · 448 pgs

img_0156-2Dear Reader,

If you have ever read a Sophie Kinsella novel then you know how character driven they are. From her use of first person limited voice to her theme of personal growth, the novels are the main character. I usually limit my book reviews to mystery and fantasy genre but I have enjoyed Kinsella books in the past and knew this would have to be on my bookshelf.

What’s in a name

Fixie Farr, whose real name is Fawn, let’s her nickname define her and uses it as a crutch for her lack of personal growth. She perceives her need to fix everything as a weakness rather than the strength it is commonly considered. But in her hands, it is a weakness, as she surrounds herself with helpless people, including family, who are self centered and entitled and use her to further their wants. Even seeing the world through Fixie’s perspective, the fact that she is being used by the people around her is obvious and makes you want to shake her awake so she can see it too. By the time I was about a quarter of the way into the novel, I wondered why I was reading the novel – Fixie is that frustrating.

Tough love

But when the mom leaves on an extended vacation, the reader knows things will have to change one way or another. Either Fixie’s world will completely implode or she will rise up and show the strength that is part of her inherent character. And it does have to get to that point before she finally does find her inner ninja.

At first it seems odd that the mother who rules the family home and store with a firm yet gently mothering way would leave the family for an extended period. Could she not see that they all would fall apart and they would lose everything in her absence? And for most of the novel, it looks like this is exactly what is going to happen. But she knew. She knew that the family’s reliance on her was stunting their growth and the only way they could grow would be to let them fail and have no choice but to find a way to fix their mistakes or have nothing. She was not doing them any favors.

The hardest thing to do as a parent is to step back and let our children make their own mistakes and figure out how to deal with it but this is also the most important thing to do. Kinsella shows in her novel, the social truth about how, even though our intentions are good, we are raising entitled brats more and more often and this will not change until we step aside and let them fail. Failure is a necessary part of life, for only through failure can one truly grow. How we respond to failure is what defines us – not childhood nicknames or other’s perceptions.