I picked up Holly Bourne’s How Do You Like Me Now? at the same time as Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. If you have read either or both of these books, you will gather that I was clearly having a ‘What the f*** am I doing with my life?’ moment, and it’s true, I was.
Both books tackle the late twenties/early thirties feeling that you ought to have gotten all areas of your life on a fine-tuned trajectory towards a perfect happy ever after. This feeling is particularly compounded when all of your peers seem to be on the right track. How Do You Like Me Now? shatters the perception that even the best lives are not what they seem, especially under the filtered gaze of social media.
The book follows nine months in the life of Tori, who on the surface looks like she has a brilliant life, but behind the scenes is struggling with the image she has created of herself. Characters have narcissistic traits and Tori is prone to bouts of vanity and seeking validation in the form of Likes. While all around her friends are getting engaged, married and having children, her long-term relationship is stagnating, trapped in that difficult place where it feels neither good enough to stay nor bad enough to leave.
In her writing, Holly honestly voices the inner demons of the competitive, self-comparison game that many might not be brave enough to admit to. Tori dissects weddings, honeymoon albums and social media posts. She knows all the right angles to look good in a photo, puts on make-up especially to take fifty selfies, and writes social media posts that mask the truth of her feelings but will guarantee engagement.
This book taps into the insecurities that women can feel in their thirties, when the pressures of time and societal expectations can be a heavy weight to carry around.