By: Autumn Chiklis
Published Year: 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion of this book.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she's ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?
Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)
The cover and title were what initially caught my eye. When I read that it was a story about a girl graduating college and moving back home, I knew I needed to read this book. I think I’ve noticed that I’m a big fan of cartoon people on covers since they definitely catch my eye.
What I thought
Eloise (Lou) has just graduated from Columbia University. She has no idea what she wants to do and does not have a job lined up, so she moves back home. She comes up with a lit of rules and goals for moving back home and is hoping to only be there for 9 months max. Lou also has a boyfriend she’s hiding from her mother, a mother who is shallow and a bit abrasive, and a childhood frenemy who has also just moved home.
Smothered is told in a series of diary entries, emails, texts, and various other random items such as bills or police reports. The format of this book did allow for it to move quickly, but it also meant that it’s not exactly a plot driven novel. This story is very character centric and I found that to be both a good and bad thing. I didn’t mind Lou. I felt she read very much like a 22 year old new college graduate. I think I would have enjoyed this book a bit more at that point in my life. Unfortunately, as I’m definitely a few years post-college graduation, I didn’t fully connect with her.
Lou’s mother on the other hand is clinically insane. She is quite the handful. She is the type of woman who spends $6,000 on one trip to Barneys, tried every fad diet, and registered her terrorist pugs online as service dogs so she could bring them to a hotel. I completely understand why Lou would be terrified to tell her mother about her boyfriend. Theo is easily the best person in this story. He’s the only normal one and has a good head on his shoulders. I was a bit disappointed when Theo finally met Lou’s family. I had expected something a bit more.
The writing style was good, especially for a debut novel. I look forward to more books by Chiklis as she continues to find her voice and style. At times is got a bit wordy for me and I did find myself skimming, but there were a lot of solid moments. I do think Lou could have been given a bit more to do, as I find that walking away from this story I’m more likely to remember her mother than I am to remember her.