Nicole's Reviews > How to Be Second Best

How to Be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann
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it was amazing
bookshelves: my-books, chic-lit, australian-fiction

How To be Second Best is the debut novel from former editor and now author, Aussie Jessica Dettman. Using her editorial skills and her experiences as a mother of two, Dettman has written a witty story that cleverly examines the different types of parenting. Set in the fictional suburb of Shorewood in Sydney, How To be Second Best is told in the first person from Emma, a single mother. Emma chronicles her ordinary, everyday existence that we can all relate to with all it's good times and hard in most unusual circumstances...caring for her ex husband's wife's daughter!

Emma is a family woman. She is a mother to two young children, Freya and Tim, and the ex-wife of Troy. Emma has a close relationship with both her father and sister, Lauren, after the death of her mother. Emma's relationship with her father was gentle and supportive and I enjoyed the conversations between the sisters. Lauren's bluntness was hilarious, leaving me with a smile on my face. Emma may not be as funny as her sister but she had a big heart and selfless nature.

Emmals big heart allowed her to love and care for not only her own children but also Lola, from Troy's second marriage to Helen. From taking Lola to her after school activities to Lola sleeping over, Emma would go to the ends of the earth for this little girl that I thought she saw as her own. For Emma, it's of upmost importance that the three children know each other and as a result of her intervention, the siblings have a beautiful relationship. Helen and Troy though, take advantage of Emma's generous nature.

There were many times when my jaw dropped in disbelief at the way they spoke to Emma, trying to make her feel insignificant with the importance of their professional lives as Troy is a successful business man while Helen's online presence is expanding. They both left me feeling that Lola came second because they relied so heavily on Emma to look after their only daughter. There were a few pointed, yet unsurprising, moments when Lola turned to Emma instead of her own mother. Emma herself isn't a stay at home but a freelance editor who works at home while caring for the children. I respected Emma because she worked around the children, ensuring they came first. Unfortunately, this meant that Emma still relied on Troy for financial assistance. It was a great moment when Emma made some much needed changes financially.

Emma doesn't live with her head in the sand and acknowledges that Troy and Helen use her as a doormat. It was just a matter of when Emma showed some backbone and when she did, it started out small. So small that no one but Emma noticed! From here though, Emma's courage and confidence grew. When Emma does finally tell it like it is, it's at a most unexpected time, allowing for another funny moment. But boy, it needed to be done at some point!

With Emma working and caring for three little rugrats, there is not a lot of time for romance. When love appears, Emma is conflicted between two men; Adam and Phillip. Adam has his own son, Bon, the same age as Tim. Things aren't as they appear and Emma knows that something is not quite right with a wife in the wings. Phillip, a man without children, works for a writer that Emma is waiting to finish a book. Who is Mr Right?

With themes of family, motherhood and relationships, How To Be Second Best is about realising that you don't have to be on the ball every minute of the day. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and be second best.

#AWWC4#
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Reading Progress

January 21, 2019 – Started Reading
January 21, 2019 – Shelved
January 22, 2019 – Shelved as: my-books
January 22, 2019 – Shelved as: chic-lit
January 22, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-fiction
January 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Theresa Smith Writes I'm so glad you liked this!


Nicole I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't part of your book club so thank you!


message 3: by Dale (new)

Dale Harcombe Enjoyed your review Nicole.


Theresa Smith Writes Nicole wrote: "I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't part of your book club so thank you!"

That's the best part of book clubs, discovering new reads! So glad!


Nicole Thank you Dale!


Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews I read this about a week ago and really enjoyed it - great review :)


Nicole Thanks Brooke 😊


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