When Eva Jordan asked me if I’d like to read and review her book and told me it was about a mother with teenage daughters, I couldn’t really refuse! As it turns out, I am exactly the same age as Lizzie, the mother in the book, and my oldest daughter is the same age as Cassie. There was so much in this book that I could identify with from Lizzie’s thoughts about her daughters and the behaviour of the terrible teens! If you are intrigued by the title of the book as I was, you do find out and I must say I think it may be an underestimate!
Right from the opening part of the first chapter – which is very cleverly written, you’ll know what I mean if you read it – I knew I was going to enjoy this book. I recognised so much in Lizzie as she described a bit about her own teenage years in the 80s, it was like reading about my own: watching Top of the Pops so you could chat about it with friends, reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume – it evoked lots of memories. I have to say that my two teenage girls are lovely but like any mother of teens I knew exactly how Lizzie felt about being almost frightened to say anything in case it was the wrong thing. Cassie is sitting exams as my eldest did this year and you really have to tread a fine line when being encouraging – you’re either being patronising or putting pressure on!
There were so many laugh out loud moments in this and one which particularly struck a chord was when Lizzie explained why she didn’t like to go shopping with Cassie. She says “quite simply I have turned into my mother. Not the calm, older but wiser version of late but the one who blurts out comments like ‘how short?’ or ‘is that a top or a skirt’ or ‘how much?’ “. I honestly felt I was reading about myself. Or perhaps that’s just what happens to all mothers of teens. It was funny reading Cassie’s thoughts about her mum too and how she was so uncool, and annoying and generally so old. I remember having those thoughts too and yet here I am, the annoying old mum! I thought that the author did a great job of really capturing the voices of both her main characters.
For all it’s a very funny book, it’s not without its serious moments. A betrayal is revealed which threatens one of Lizzie’s friendships and a serious incident makes the last quarter of the book a much more sombre read. But what comes out of this is that Lizzie’s family, despite its arguments and differences, really pulls together and shows its strength. In the very last part of the novel there are some very moving and thought-provoking phrases, including this one: “If you spend your life craving the seemingly perfect lives of others you are in serious danger of missing what you actually have. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness”. Very true, Ms Jordan, very true.
My thanks to the author for kindly offering me a copy of her book to review in exchange for my honest review. 183 Times a Year was published by Troubador on and you can buy a copy here: 183 Times a Year You can read a Q&A with Eva here: Author in the Spotlight
183 Times a Year
Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.
Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud.
16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course.
However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way. Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.