I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Star Rating: ★★★✰✰
Jane is a telemarketer. Although sometimes she’s Sabrina. Other times she’s Nancy. But she’s almost always phoning the same person. And with each call he becomes angrier and more threatening. But she persists. And the more she phones this man, the more she reveals about her reasons, her past and why it may not be all she says it is.
Emily Austen’s debut novel, Oh Honey, is an interesting portrayal of mental illness. Jane is a bipolar pill-popper, on probation for drug possession, attending regular meetings with her probation officer, to varying degrees of success. I liked her as a character. She’s witty and sarcastic (definitely my kind of person), and she’s the kind of person who says out loud what everyone else is afraid to.
In saying that, she’s not a particularly likable character. But you feel for her. She’s a product of the problematic system she’s in. Oh Honey shows the problems that come with the rehabilitation process and how it’s not always helpful to the people it’s trying to rehabilitate. Jane’s probation officer doesn’t even notice when she turns up to a meeting completely off her face on ‘ladybugs’, a drug given to her by a co worker. Of course, Jane isn’t completely without blame, she doesn’t help herself in a lot of situations. But she’s not helped by the system she’s a part of.
I read Oh Honey in a couple of hours. It’s definitely a strange book, but I couldn’t help enjoying it. It’s got a bit of everything in it; sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes makes you think. I felt bad about laughing at times, it’s a dark book and laughing seems like an insult to the subject matter. But it’s a funny book, and it adds to the realism of it. Even when life isn’t going well funny stuff still happens, and it’s still okay to laugh. It might even be necessary to get through the bad stuff.
This book won’t be for everyone. I know a lot of people weren’t happy with the lack of resolution in the ending. I can see how that can be annoying, but I do think it works for Oh Honey. I see this book as a snippet of Jane’s life, it’s not her full story so there’s no reason for it to have a proper resolution. Even the reason behind why she phones the same man every day is given in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of thought. I enjoyed it and I know a lot of other readers will as well, so why not give it a go?