We first meet Emma as she’s coming out of a three year fug. She’s only just begun to realise that her super-hero single mum role is maybe a little bit twisted. She’s in an unusual situation. After the birth of her second child, she was floored to discover that husband Troy had been having an affair with Helen, his Pilates instructor and that Helen had also just had a child by him. Since then, Troy had left Emma, married Helen, moved with his new family into a house three doors down and told Emma that Helen needed him more because Emma was so much more confident and capable at motherhood. Also that - dear me - he hadn’t known that it was possible to love two people at once.
For reasons that are becoming clear, Emma bought into this rubbish, ferrying all three children about and generally acting as nanny and unpaid dogsbody. All amicable here. Her loving father and sister call her out on this, and the phrase “ostrich martyr” is used. Emma really needs to know about the Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer triangle. She’s an otherwise intelligent woman who at some level realises that all is not okay. She’s maybe not so lucky that her freelance editing job gives her the ability to be there for the children when required. Of course things can’t stay this way, and before long, several things happen to shake the situation up.
This may not sound like the makings of a very funny novel, but thanks mainly to the wit of Emma (who narrates) and her sister Laura, there are many laugh out loud moments. Author Jessica Dettmann absolutely nails modern parenthood among the kale devotees and sunhat-wearing school kids. It’s a light, addictive read, certainly, and one that contains much human truth as well. Highly recommended.
This was a charming, funny and very realistic read which often had me laughing out loud. I was loathe to put it down and accidentally read it all in one very late evening sitting. I highly recommend this novel.
HOW TO BE SECOND BEST by Jessica Dettmann examines what happens when Emma decides to be second best for a change.
She has been so busy trying to be the best at everything ever since her husband left her to start a family with another woman that she hasn’t realised just how much of a pushover she has become. By taking a step back from the competitiveness of modern parenting Emma’s life begins to fall into place, including in the romance department!
HOW TO BE SECOND BEST is a great beach read. Dettmann has hilariously captured the craziness and competitiveness of modern suburban parenthood, which is often made more difficult with mixed families. I particularly enjoyed the swimming pool scene!
The characters were incredibly well-written and I love the concept of teaching yourself how to be second best in a world where everything seems to be a competition.
How To Be Second Best by Jessica Dettman - what a great book. It had me laughing, wanting to cry and relating to scenarios that the characters got themselves into. I love a good light hearted read - even better when it is written by an Aussie. It was a fun book, with characters that felt real . Really enjoyed reading this one.
Emma's family is complicated. She has 2 children with her ex-husband Troy. He is now married to the glamourous pilates instructor Helen, with who he also has a child - born at the same time as his and Emma's second child. And Troy and Helen live 3 doors down. Helen and Troy have taken advantage of Emma for the last 3 years, receiving free babysitting for their daughter because Emma wants to kids to be close (as they are half siblings) But Emma has let her life slip past her and things are starting to change. This is a great story of family, friendships, love and moving on. Things are not always easy for Emma, but she never gives up.
I absolutely adored this hilarious and brilliant novel. Jess draws you in to the chaotic life of Emma and I found myself powering through the pages wanting to know what happens next. You know you’ve read a great book when you’re sitting up the front of an aeroplane but you wait until every last person has disembarked for just one more paragraph, one more page...
I devoured this book in one sitting. What a hoot! Initially I was intensely irritated by the protagonist, Emma, and her seemingly ridiculous situation, but the laugh a page and skilful narrative soon had me engrossed. A five star read. I can’t wait for the next one from this fine new comic talent.