I love Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. When Nanny Diaries came out, I was actually working as a nanny and could relate to so much of the book, and I absolutely loved it. I’ve read every one of their books since then. Their latest book, How To Be a Grown-Up is now one of my favorites of theirs. Ms McLaughlin and Kraus aren’t as young as they used to be – and neither are their characters.
Rory McGovern met her husband Blake, a former child star whose poster once hung on millions of girls’ walls, while in college. The envy of all her college friends, they dated and eventually married, and she spent most of their life together following his career. Back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, between movies, plays, and TV pilots. She cared for their two children, and found occasional part time work, using her degree in design. She’s real and relatable. Though he was very well known for his famous childhood roles, as an adult wasn’t that successful. They struggled. Or rather, she struggled. He seemed to have no idea what sacrifices they all were making to allow him to continue to follow his dream.
During a particularly slow time in his career, Rory starts to panic. Making their mortgage payment and paying for preschool becomes a challenge. They’re also on the verge of losing their insurance. He takes a “break” from the family to focus on a role – seemingly unaware of Rory’s juggling act. She then is offered a full time position, the first full time job she’s had since her son was born years earlier. Now basically a single mother, she’s embarking on a new project (an online style start-up).
I’m almost as old as Rory is, and as much as I loved this book, it caused panic. I suppose sometimes divorce and/or separation is predictable. She didn’t see it coming. As Blake took a “break” to focus on his next project, they grew farther and farther apart. He was unapologetic in leaving to focus on his own dreams and career. She scrambles to figure out life on her own, and struggles in this new reality. I loved this story, and loved her courage in the face of starting over alone. But I couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes, which is completely terrifying. Rory is strong and resilient, and finds out what it really means to be a grown up.