The #MeToo movement started in 2006, and went viral in 2017 after Alyssa Milano wrote an open letter encouraging victims of sexual abuse to share their stories. The world started talking, and things would no longer be the same. The movement is still going strong, and is very much seen within the media now… Such as modern feminist novels like Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist – a book I judged as a panelist for BBNYA 2020.
***AD: This post features press samples but all thoughts are my own***
“THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND GUILT. AN EVEN FINER LINE BETWEEN JUSTICE AND REVENGE.
Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.
Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.
Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.
As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?
A pacy and suspenseful novel with its feet firmly in the #MeToo era. 9 to 5 meets Suits with a dash of Black Mirror.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Stay Mad, Sweetheart explores various forms of discrimination within its plot… Sexual abuse, workplace harassment, and the relatively new experience of public platform cyberbullying. Many women will have experienced at least one of those, so it’s a topic close to our hearts.
The story Kist presents us with is powerful and relatable. Reading about Laura’s, Suki’s, and Emily’s stories, I identified so much that I was sadly familiar with. You immediately root for the characters because you know what they’re going through. And if you don’t, you know how possible it is that you could one day. Reading this made me wonder if modern feminist novels tackling such issues will become much more prevalent in society… I hope so, given the messages they portray.
All three main characters are strong in their own way, and develop so well over the course of the book. I really liked Laura – intelligent and caring, but with a distinct desire to stay out of the spotlight. As someone who is also highly introverted I could really feel for her, as she becomes torn over how involved to become. I also loved Suki, a powerful, no-nonsense woman who brings an LGBT perspective. Together the two of them work so well together, despite being complete opposites. As for Emily… We never get to meet her, of course, but her story resonates.
The author has a very easy to read writing style, and this combined with short chapters made Stay Mad, Sweetheart, one of those “just one more chapter!” books that I often speak of. I found myself racing through it, desperate to cram as much in as possible before putting the book down. It’s well-paced and there’s loads of mystery and twists, which really add to the plot.
Despite being a tough topic to read about as a woman, I genuinely couldn’t put Stay Mad, Sweetheart down. I haven’t read many modern feminist novels, but this has certainly inspired me to pick up more. Powerful and overt, it raises a mirror to society and asks it to stare right into its own eyes and face the huge issue of discrimination against women. It’s a difficult thing to do justice but Heleen Kist really does, making it a must-read recommendation from me.
If you’d like your own copy of Stay Mad, Sweetheart then you can purchase it using the following links:
“Throughout her life, Heleen Kist has been fondled, patronised and ordered to smile by random men. So she wrote ‘Stay Mad, Sweetheart’, a feminist tale of justice, published November 2019.Whilst her professional knowledge of technology start-ups fed the novel’s setting, its theme of insidious harassment and discrimination required no research: it is familiar to all women.
Heleen was chosen as an up and coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. Her first novel, ‘In Servitude’ won the silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the USA and was shortlisted for The Selfies awarded at London Book Fair.
A Dutch strategy consultant living in Glasgow and married to a Scotsman, she’s raising their son to be a good man and their daughter to kick ass.”
(Taken from Amazon)
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors.
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What do you look for in modern feminist novels? What makes them feminist to you? Comment below, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this review! You may enjoy these other books reviews below: