Author: Emma Murray
Mother-of-one Saoirse is just about holding it all together – combining part time work with the school run, while her husband David gets to focus on his career. But when David loses his job, everything has to change.
With no hesitation, Saoirse suggests she takes on the role of main breadwinner. After all, how hard can it be? And when a new client offers her a life-changing sum of money, Saoirse can look the other over-achieving Woodvale school-run mums in the eye with pride.
But there’s a problem with keeping too many balls in the air – eventually one is bound to drop. And when that happens – well, who knows what the consequences could be…
It was not until after I finished reading that I looked at other reviews and found out that this novel was a sequel to the novel Time Out. The Juggle follows the same set of characters and acts as a direct sequel given that it takes place after the events of the first. I read this novel without reading the previous and was able to follow without any issues, so I believe readers can read this one as a standalone if they wished. However, reading the first novel would provide background and more details to the story. There are references to the events from the previous novel, but there are times where I wish I read the entire story first.
Saoirse is currently a stay at home mom trying to balance life in a school where the mom squad gives those that do not serve only organic snacks, a difficult time. Her daughter, Anna, is a sweet and vivacious four-year-old who loves her iPad time, which is something else Saoirse gets judged for by the other moms. Even if you do not have children, Saoirse is very relatable how she tries to balance multiple things at the same time while trying to actually do them well. Anyone who has ever tried to keep track of multiple things at once can absolutely relate to this character and sympathize with her struggle.
Saoirse’s husband, David, loses his job in this one and now must find a new career path, or at least a new job. To keep the family afloat, Saoirse ends up taking a ghost-writing job, given that her book is currently on hold, in order to earn enough money for the family to survive while David works on his professional life. The story goes through the day-to-day life of the juggle that everyone goes through where they have so much to keep track of in their life with others that either directly or indirectly are impacted by how well they can hold it together. I loved the humorous take on this struggle as it was light-hearted and very relatable. Things don’t always go as planned where you have to pivot to something new, sometimes at a moment’s notice. There are times where you have to pick and choose your battles and just take even the smallest achievement as a win, even if it was not the outcome you were working towards. With David’s job loss and Saoirse’s new job to ghost-write, their roles change as David steps up to help out more at home. This slight role reversal was entertaining and enjoyable to read about.
In addition to Saorise’s life at home, she also has her best friend, Bea, and her new school mom friends. The moms in the Organics, “perfect” school mom group, are her “friends” and we see how Saorise balances these different relationships. Like every person, there are many obstacles with trying to balance the lives of others with you own as you don’t want to be a bad friend, wife, husband, mother, father, etc., yet you need to find balance to keep yourself happy, too. Again, this is a topic that everyone can relate to in some way as all readers will understand the struggle to try and be everywhere at once without experiencing burnout.
The school Whatsapp group was funny as I fully related to Saoirse. If there was a school bake sale, I would absolutely be bringing store bought cakes instead of making my own, especially because I’m not a great baker. Saoirse’s journey was very enjoyable to read about as she further explores her friendship with Bea and begins to wonder if her current writing career path is right for her. I love how the entire novel looks at what happens when your life seems to be going one way and then curveballs are thrown at you and now you either have to work to return to the original way of life or figure out a brand new way. Overall, this is a perfect book club novel as there are lots of possible discussion topics. It was very enjoyable and gave a nice slice of life reading to my day. I would gladly read more from this author!
**I give a special thank you to NetGalley, Boldwood Books, and the author, Emma Murray, for an ARC to read and review. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**