Title: NO HARD FEELINGS
Author: Genevieve Novak
Publisher: HarperCollins AU
Read: May 2022
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Penny can't help but compare herself
to her friends. Annie is about to become a senior associate at her law firm,
Bec has just got engaged, Leo is dating everyone this side of the Yarra, and
Penny is just ... waiting. Waiting for Max, her on-again, off-again boyfriend,
to allow her to spend the night, waiting for the promotion she was promised,
waiting for her Valium to kick in. Waiting for her real life to start.
Out of excuses and sick of falling behind, Penny is determined to turn things around. She's going to make it work with Max, impress her tyrannical boss, quit seeing her useless therapist, remember to water her plants, and stop having panic attacks in the work toilets.
But soon she's back to doomscrolling on Instagram, necking bottles of Aldi's finest sauvignon blanc, and criticising herself with renewed vigour and loathing. As her goals seem further away than ever, she has to wonder: when bad habits feel so good, how do you trust what's right for you?
Quite a few years have passed since I was in my late twenties, and yet I could instantly relate to Penny, Genevieve Novak’s protagonist in NO HARD FEELINGS. Penny is at that stage in her life where some of her friends have moved on, getting married, having babies or being caught up in high flying careers. None of these things have yet worked out for Penny herself, and she feels stuck, waiting for her on-again, off-again boyfriend Max to finally commit to a relationship or getting her long awaited promotion at work. Every time she thinks she is close to her goal, something goes wrong and she is thrown into despair. Is it any wonder her two best friends are losing patience with her?
Novak writes with honesty and heart and a generous dose of self-deprecating humour that made me chuckle even as Penny goes through moments of despair. There was something original and refreshing in Novak’s prose that kept me reading late into the night and stay engaged, despite being able to predict where the story was headed.
NO HARD FEELINGS is a coming-of-age story of sorts, as Penny slowly comes to grips with her own self, which she has been trying very hard to suppress in her desire to belong and live up to the expectations she has put upon herself by constantly comparing herself to others. Even though I am almost twice Penny’s age now and already had two children by the time I was twenty-seven, many of her observations still rang true, especially her desire for purpose and belonging. Let’s be honest, some of Penny’s self-doubts and insecurities will be encountered by most of us at some stage in our lives, and Novak’s observations are spot on (even though I felt like yelling at Penny in frustration at times, especially when she goes back AGAIN to her jerk of an ex-boyfriend).
All in all, NO HARD FEELINGS was a pleasure to read and a book I may have passed by if I had not arrived on my doorstep one morning courtesy of the publisher. Thank you, it would have been a terrible shame to miss this one! I laughed, I raged and I deeply felt for Penny. To be so emotionally involved with a character is the sign of a great story, and I recommend it to women of all ages who have ever felt stuck or a bit lost in their life. A feel-good read that ticked all the boxes.
Thank you to HarperCollins AU for the free copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.