I recently finished reading Melissa Bank’s “The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” and it’s taken me a couple of days to compile my thoughts into something coherent.
I’m going to start by saying I kind of loved this book. At moments it was hard to read, and I kind of wished I’d chosen a chirpy Sophie Kinsella novel instead. But as a single lady living that #datinglyfe, this is the kind of story I need to be reading more often. I love a happy ending, and I love a good romance, but in real life relationships involve a lot more drudgery. This book walks through all the challenges and hardships that you encounter while looking for “Mr Right;” and I don’t just mean kissing a bunch of frogs.
We meet the main character, Jane, at age 14, as she witnesses her (irresponsible) golden-boy brother’s first serious relationship crumble. It’s clear from these early vignettes that Jane is a thoughtful young woman with a somewhat off-beat sense of humor, and an intense inner monologue that guides- and misguides- her throughout the story. Later we see Jane in her early 20’s, attempting to navigate a painfully awkward vacation with her new boyfriend and his now-married ex. Her feelings and internal struggles during these moments were so, so relatable to me; I loved how the author captured those moments of paralysis when you’re not sure how to make an awkward situation any less awkward.
Later, Jane becomes involved in a relationship with an older man, Archie. Although I hated Archie as a character, I related to how Jane felt so drawn to someone despite that person being wrong for her. The ups and downs of Jane and Archie’s relationship aren’t the only challenges we hear about, though. In a total deviation from the traditional romance-novel-plot, Jane encounters all kinds of other problems during her 20’s: She feels unfulfilled at work, and her father falls ill. She’s disappointed in her brother, and can’t find the right dress for a friend’s wedding. She gets WAY too into a self-help fad and almost loses herself in the process.
This book was a reminder that life is a process, not just a race to the alter. Which is something everyone on the dating scene needs to keep in mind.
Jane’s story is told entirely in first-person vignettes. The language is serious, factual, and decisively non-descriptive; it took some getting used to, but in the end I really liked the efficiency of this kind of storytelling. Every once in a while another character’s story pops in; one from a disappointed mother of grown-up children, another from a young woman battling breast cancer. These other characters seem unconnected to the overall plot, though, and while their stories are interesting, they seem a little out of place.
This book is a must read for any lady in their mid-to-late 20’s. It’s well written, witty, and relatable- especially for those of us still navigating the dating scene and actively avoiding their insta feed every weekend morning so as to no be slapped in the face with all the engagement, wedding, and baby pictures everyone else seems to be posting.
Now You Tell Me…
Got any good books on tap for this summer?
Know of any other books that frame love as a process, not a solution?
Give me recommendations!!!