The premise of this book really appealed to me when I found it on NetGalley - this year has been a weird one and my existing anxiety has made it difficult for me to stay upbeat about it all, so the idea of someone candidly talking about their experience with a bit of humour sounded great.
There was a lot about this book that I related to having also gone through lockdown with a small child and animals running around; her constant references to the bodily fluids that her children and pets gifted her for clear-up on a daily basis was so recognisable I had to laugh. There was a real charm to the brutal honesty that Dawn (I feel like it's ok to be on first name terms here, because it's how she signed off every diary entry) so unashamedly shared throughout the book. She clearly writes from a place where she's comfortable with who she is and how she got to where she is. What's impressive is that the honesty never feels overpowering or sullen, quite the opposite, in fact, there is a lightness to the book despite its subject matter. This is particularly true of her entries on the loss of her friend Caroline Flack - there was nothing hidden about how much she was suffering with her grief, but it never felt sombre and always felt respectful and warm.
The diary format was also a great tool for keeping things light when the topic could have been overwhelming, because it meant that the pace was constantly changing and no one moment was focused on for too long. Any other format for this book really wouldn't have worked.
There were also some things in the book that I struggled to relate to, and which made it hard for me to read at times. I found myself reading 10-20 pages at a time and then having to take a break for a while before coming back to it, which is abnormal for me - if I'm loving a book, I can't put it down! One of those things was the whole piece on spirituality. It's great that the author has managed to get so much from her crystals and signs from the universe, but it's not for me, so it wasn't my favourite chapter to read. The other thing was the frequent reference to how she was getting through lockdown with booze and weed. I don't judge, I think we all turned to things that weren't the healthiest option for us to cope (for me it was mainly chocolate!) but the fact that it came up so often started to trigger anxiety for me, so those were the moments where I had to walk away for a few hours.
It was definitely an entertaining look at how lockdown impacted the author's life, but it didn't quite hit the right note for me.
*I received an electronic advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dear 2020 – can we just start over?Love Dawn x
LIFE IN PIECES is a book for anyone who’s been thrown into a life they didn’t plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. When it looks like everything’s falling apart, we’ll piece it back together.
From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn has been doing a lot of thinking about life in lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. Discover the daily diaries that track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal.
The book will be available to buy here from 1 October 2020. It's being published by HarperCollins.