Today is my stop on the blog tour for BBNYA finalist, Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist, and I am excited to share my review with you all.
THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND GUILT. AN EVEN FINER LINE BETWEEN JUSTICE AND REVENGE.
Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.
Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.
Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.
As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.
But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?
I was lucky enough to get Stay Mad, Sweetheart as one of my assigned 3 books to read in the final round of BBNYA 2020, and I was so excited to read it because it sounded exactly like the type of book I would love. Now, I can honestly say that it didn’t disappoint.
I did really struggle with the beginning of the story, it was very upsetting, and due to personal experiences it really hit me hard. The way that Heleen Kist describes the pain and grief after the death of a best friend is so realistic and honest, and it brought back all of those feelings that I went through myself after losing my best friend.
I felt like I really connected with the character of Laura (maybe because I could relate to her feelings on a very personal level). I felt so sorry for her, all the pain and anger, but she was so strong, and she fought her way through it. She came across as a genuinely lovely person, a little naive at times, but she deserved so much better than the cards she was dealt. Suki and Claire were also great characters, and brilliant examples of strong women, who are trying to make a difference. I loved how the three women teamed up, to bring down the hierarchy, and end the discrimination they were facing.
The story tackles some very important issues! Consent, online bullying/harassment, and misogyny to name a few. Although the ways that the three women go about tackling these issues may not be ideal in a real life situation, standing against those in the wrong is so important, and standing together is the best way to do it.
This book does a great job of highlighting how comments online, especially a torrent of abuse, can have truly devastating consequences on a person and their lives. I think a lot of people really need to look at how they interact with others online, and think about what they are saying before they say it. It’s easy to get in front of a keyboard, and jump on a bandwagon. It’s easy to think that your one comment wouldn’t have consequences or do any damage, but you have to look at the bigger picture. If 1000 people say the same thing, to the same person, it could have a devastating affect. Quite a few current events have highlighted this, for example, Meghan Markle revealing that she was suicidal. A lot of her pain was caused by tabloids and abuse towards her, and even after this shocking announcement of her struggles, the internet is still full of people tearing her apart. This type of abuse needs to end, NOW, and if every single one of us stops to think before we say things online, we really could make a huge difference.
It also does a fantastic job of showing the way that women are treated, both socially and professionally, and how most of the time it is just brushed off as nothing or ignored, even by other women. This is another point that has been talked about a lot recently. The way people turn a blind eye to blatant misogyny, and harassment of women is something that truly needs addressing. You may not be participating in it yourself, but if you see someone behaving in an unacceptable way, CALL THEM OUT. Tell them it is not okay.
Towards the end of the story, there are some unexpected twists and revelations, which wrap up the book brilliantly. I think this book, and the issues it tackles are incredibly important, especially now with everything that is happening in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. It is hard hitting, powerful, and I think everyone should read it.
I give Stay Mad, Sweetheart a 4.5 star rating!
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
About The Author:
Heleen Kist loves writing novels. If that sounds like an addiction, that’s because it probably has become one.
She is Dutch and she lives in Glasgow with her Scottish husband and their two kids.
Her debut crime novel In Servitude came out in 2018. She is very proud of its success in various awards + reviews. Stay Mad, Sweetheart is her latest novel: a dark yet empowering feminist thriller that’s getting rave reviews already.
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