REVIEW: This is How It Happened by Jo Barrett
Dear Ms Barrett,
A notation on the cover of “This is How It Happened” states it’s “Not a Love Story” and that’s the truth. Even for a Chick Lit book this novel has almost no romance in it. Most of the story is Maddy and her endless need for revenge against the man who done her wrong.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but Maddy has to take some responsibility for acting like a moron. Sure I can understand that initially she’s dazzled by Carlton, his great looks, his romantic gestures and the envy of other women that he’s dating her. But since you set her up as being so smart I began to wonder at her gullibility. She’s so intelligent yet she keeps making dumb moves over and over. Love must be blind because how else would she continue to trust and believe Carlton as he screws her again and again.
And it’s not just in their private life. She makes dumb business moves like not working out a business contract before living and breathing the company they start. She accepts her reduced role in the company and the fact that she has to earn her shares. She believes that her business portfolios were lost. She let’s Carlton kick her out of a business she thought up and got going. She still sleeps with him after he didn’t tell her about his STD. She tries to keep him even after he cheats on her. And then his reaction to the pregnancy… It’s hard to feel sorry for Maddy after a while. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, or in Maddy’s case, fifteen times, and shame should be dumped on her head.
At this point, I could understand that it takes her months to, as her friend Heather urged her, get over it. The enormity of what Carlton has done to her, personally and professionally, finally sinks in and she needs to wallow a bit before dragging herself out for her revenge. At first that was kind of funny even though I kept thinking that Maddy shouldn’t be researching methods of killing on her home computer. Hasn’t she watched any A&E or Court TV shows in which the police use a criminal’s searches recorded on his/her hard drive as evidence for an arrest warrant?
Then there’s the bit about Dick the hit man and how he brings out Maddy’s inner marketing skills. I’m guessing that this is supposed to be funny to balance out the seriousness of what Maddy’s doing. Unfortunately that whole part overshot farce. Then there’s Heather’s inability to master being Jewish. Was this supposed to be a joke? All it did was make Heather look like a blonde idiot. The slightly silly tacked on subplot with Nick, and the even briefer romance – all of 2 pages – wasn’t fleshed out enough for me. Maddy goes from having to be bashed over the head to see how bad Carlton is to easily accepting the fact that Nick thought what he did about her then dating him anyway.
I liked the interaction between Maddy and her brother Ronnie. These are two siblings who really seem to care for each other and be there for each other when the going gets tough. I breezed through reading it in record time and wanted to know what would happen next. I like your writing style even if maybe I don’t like how you make your heroine act most of the time. In the end, Maddy’s revenge was inspired, tailored to fit the villain and intelligently done. So…did she really need the hit man? Was he the deus ex machina who got her creative juices flowing?
I know that one of the standard elements of Chick Lit is a heroine who does some dumb things and gets done over by a villain guy. And that she doesn’t recognize the good guy hero, who’s often not prominently featured, for a lot of the book. But this book takes these to extremes. I just got tired of watching her make stupid moves, get snowed by Carlton, and come up short over and over for most of the length of the book. Despite some things I liked, overall I’d have to give it a C-