Hey Yeah Right Get a Life by Helen Simpson

HeyYeahRightThis collection of nine short stories was one of six books ‘prescribed’ to me by Nina Killham (www.ninakillham.com), herself a published writer, following a bibliotherapy session I attended at the School of Life (www.theschooloflife.com/melbourne). Being a mother of two young boys, Simpson’s collection of stories which seek to shatter the “conspiracy of silence” surrounding motherhood was a welcome read over the New Year and summer period.

Motherhood is clearly the overriding theme throughout this compilation, with time—or the lack thereof—also featuring prominently. Simpson is a delightful wordsmith and her lyrical writing enhances the English locales of her stories and the narratives of her female protagonists, who undoubtedly offer recognisable traits and thoughts to fellow mothers. Simpson gives voice to feelings of guilt and inadequacy which are often unspoken and highlights how mothers feel the need to justify their choices, particularly with other parents, with whom judgement and competition is rife.

Hey Yeah Right Get a Life explores family dynamics, the relationships between husbands and wives, friends, parents and their children and the battle of wills these regularly entail. The decision of whether or not to work after having children and the complications and difficulties of both are explored. Most of the stories are subtly linked, however Millennium Blues, in which a woman witnesses a plane crash and its subsequent wake of destruction, seemed an odd inclusion.

With only the occasional insight from a male perspective or women who aren’t mothers, I am not sure if Hey Yeah Right Get a Life would resonate with those who aren’t mothers as much as those who are. Whilst beautifully crafted, I would be hesitant to recommend this book to readers who don’t have children given the subtleties and nuances of stories which all have an emphasis on motherhood.

ISBN: 9780099284222

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