I received this book to read and review as part of the 2020 BBNYA (Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award) and the BBNYA tours organised by @The_WriteReads Tour Team. All opinions are my own unbiased honest thoughts. More information about all can be found at the bottom of this post.
Stay Mad, Sweetheart follows four main protagonists, Laura a data scientist with a dislike of people and love of books, Suki a corporate financier wanting to succeed in a male dominated field, Claire an event planner hoping to succeed at securing a promotion and Emily, the victim of horrific cyberbulling after her anonymity is lost and accusations she has made draw attention from the dark corners of the internet.
Following the early loss of Emily’s narrative, Laura, Suki and Claire all find their own lives intersecting across a void caused by the tragedy. In Stay Mad, Sweetheart three women decide to join forces, to use their skill and emotion to punish those discriminating against them and forcing them down with ancient patriarchal structures.
I have a lot of praise for this book – but let me take a second to start with my initial hesitations. I didn’t really know a lot about this book going in, so I was a little worried when after the first 20 pages I was a bit confused about what was happening with the business merger and tech speak (alas neither being my forte). As such, I was worried for a moment that despite all the brilliant reviews that I had seen coming out, maybe I was going to be an outlier.
Thank goodness after that though I feel in deep with this book. As soon as Emily’s story came to the foreground I was invested. (Please be aware that this story does deal with themes of sexual assault, discrimination, bullying and suicide). I think like many women I have experiences with unwanted attention because of my gender, I have also previously worked in a Higher Education role where I was sometimes the first person that someone disclose a sexual assault to, and therefore seeing the dive into what Emily had to endure really hit hard. It also made me root harder for Laura and her pursuit of something close to justice for her friend.
From there the story takes a variety of plot turns. The author has managed to put in stark focus the injustices women can face in the work place, and the desire for retribution victims can feel. At times it was a tough read for a number of reasons, it is very topical in light with current events (although it could be argued that sexism has never been un-topical for anyone willing to notice it).
Our narratives all start with tentative links to one another that strengthen and weave together in a believable and realistic fashion. Providing three distinct voices that feel like real individuals bonding over the course of the novel.
It is also a story about morally grey areas too – whilst we see the narrative from a particular angle, it does raise questions about the digital age and how easy it is for so much information about ourselves to be made available. It also makes the reader question what do they consider suitable recourse for an action. Have the protagonists gone too far? Not far enough? What exactly is anyone looking for in the name of justice.
For female readers, a little escapism and daydream about work place grievances due to archaic sexist structures but deeply rooted in lived experiences.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website: www.bbnya.com or @bbnya_official and follow this link to enter. (Please make sure to read the terms and conditions before entering).
If you are a Book Blogger or reviewer and want to join an amazing panel, you can apply to be part of the 2021 BBNYA panel via this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up).
TLDR? A tragic event sparks a series of suspenseful events, where our female protagonists take control of their own power for an impactful read.