I found myself in Chloe, Dani, and Eve in different ways, and it felt like the i’s and t’s in myself were finally dotted and crossed.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown got me straight from the title. After all, I’ve always been told to get a life. I’ve always been geeky, responsible, the kind of good girl who always opted for a Pepsi lemon at a party, to my friends’ evergreen despair and raised eyebrows. So when Chloe Brown decided to make a list of activities to help her get a life, I felt like nothing else could sum up my life better than that. It was exactly what I’d do: tired of my monotonous, way-too-calculated existence, in an attempt to become more spontaneous and adventurous, I would, without hesitation, start with a list. Because how else would someone without a life get a life?
I was surprised on how many other levels Chloe and I were the same. As a chronically ill web-designer, Chloe’s daily life is fogged by the pains she has to deal with every time she does anything remotely uncomfortable, like moving too much or too suddenly. This is where the book got interesting for me. No, it wasn’t the heart-pounding, steamy romance (although Redford is without a doubt my type). Chloe’s chronic pains, I realised, a few chapters in, were shockingly similar to the horrendous backpain, leg pain, and headaches I was dealing with on the daily back in the summer of 2020, when I happened to read this book. I was never diagnosed and the one chiropractor I went to for back pains said I was simply too weak and had to strengthen my muscles through exercise if I wanted the pains to stop. I suspect he dismissed it a little too easily.
Whenever Chloe would deal with her pains, I felt seen. I felt represented. Like my suffering was suddenly not just a sign of mere fatigue or lack of exercise anymore, but something a lot more serious. Much like Chloe, I had moments when the pain got so excruciating and intrusive, it would cloud my reason. I became scared to carry anything lighter than an almost empty backpack and the idea of walking to work terrified me. Because I knew what would follow. My pains have stopped months ago, for whatever reason, be it that I became more active or stopped mentally indulging them and got on with my life. But Get a Life, Chloe Brown was there to tell me I wasn’t complaining about nothing.
Dani Brown’s story followed and it spoke to my workaholism way, way too clearly. Pink-haired, decisive, responsible Dani is an established academic with a slight obsession for her work. Sounds familiar? To me, it hit home. Take a Hint, Dani Brown is probably the most see-saw-like story of all three, with a fake dating narrative that keeps you on the edge, but again, I came for the romance and stayed for the familiarity. Dani Brown refuses to let anyone distract her from her work. At her desk, in the library at the university where she teaches, in the café, Dani will always do research, or write, or read, and it feels like she can never stop. Although I fully resonated with Dani and her stubborn refusal to allow anything to interfere with her rock-hard focus, observing someone like that from the outside felt like an awakening. I felt like I’d been caught in the act and it made me re-think my work habits. I hope Dani has reached that point too.
Ah, Eve Brown. Confused, immature, one-job-today-no-job-tomorrow, I-ran-my-boss-over Eve Brown. Act Your Age, Eve Brown was one of many reminders I need, much like any other person in their early 20s, that everything will work out in the end. Maybe not next week, next month, or next summer. But things will work out and there is a place for me out there. I’ve been having symptoms of what I think is job-seeking anxiety for a while now. Which is, to be honest, a small thing to deal with in comparison to all the panic, confusion, and identity crises I’ve seen around me from people in my position. It often feels like you’re pulling a weight towards no direction in particular. Like everything you do, although progressive, leads nowhere significant, and the more you pull, the more you want to stop.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown opens with yet another fail for Eve in her pursuit of a dream career. At 26 years old, she has tried it all. Setting up her own business (several times), getting a degree, getting a qualification, working a regular day job, working for her parents, working in the creative sector. And every time something goes wrong, she bails. Until, through the most unlikely, most random set of circumstances and a decision to interview for a job completely unprepared (then proceeding to run her future boss over, which I related to to a concerning extent), Eve Brown finally finds her calling. And a deep, deep sigh of relief escaped my chest like it had been trapped there for years. Because it made me reconsider my constant fear I’m not doing enough and every second I don’t apply for a job is another missed opportunity. I’ve had plenty of Eve Brown-like random experiences that proved life-changing. And I need to keep reminding myself they will keep happening, and I will be there to catch the right train and build the life I want.
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