Stay Mad, Sweetheart

Heleen Kist

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.

This book contains:

  • suicide
  • bullying and harassment (both online and in real life),
  • revenge.

Throughout the book we follow Laura, Suki and Claire as they deal with the aftermath of Emily’s suicide. Emily is Laura’s best friend and she worked with Claire. Her suicide affected each of them deeply and we see that play out in their actions throughout the book.

Laura is a socially awkward computer programmer. She’s already managing Emily’s social media use to make sure her mental health stays as strong as possible when the story begins. Since before the book begins, her male business partner has been managing the sale of their business so she can focus on the code and out of the politics of selling a business.

Claire is given Emily’s event planning portfolio after her suicide, and now has to work with Laura who she briefly spoke to just before Emily’s body was discovered. It’s a portfolio she doesn’t want, while her boss has given the one she wanted to a male colleague with less experience, and one he knew she wanted.

Suki isn’t introduced to us until after Emily’s death, yet she’s also been impacted by a male-controlled field. Her job is to understand Laura’s work to ensure the value is appropriately evaluated for the sale of the business.

All three women are impacted by Emily’s suicide in different ways. Laura is emotionally distraught; Emily is overworked and underappreciated while Suki is left trying to get Laura to focus. During this process they realise they have a common ground of wanting justice for wrongs that men have enforced on them.

Over the course of the book, they work together to process their grief and move forwards professionally, regardless of what barriers the men in their industries have put in their way. The challenges they go through to achieve this is something they do together, as a new friendship group bonded out of their shared experiences.

Overall, I didn’t like this book. The writing was great. The engagement was great. It was captivating. All the key areas you score a book in, it did really well.

It was those intangible things like the message it sends that really got to me. It sent the message that just because men have rigged the workplace system so much, it’s ok for women to commit crimes and ruin their lives to get ahead.

Up until the revenge plan was hatched, I was loving the book AND its message. Once that plan was hatched?

I literally only finished it because it was a BBNYA book, not because I was enjoying where it was going.

As a woman who looks younger than her years, is more mature than my years and is often in a position where I’m telling men twice my age how things should be done. I understand where they’re coming from. And I don’t agree with their decisions. I don’t believe that’s the best way to handle those issues and I wish Heleen had taken a better route than this.

Revenge really wasn’t necessary.


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4 Replies to “Stay Mad, Sweetheart – Heleen Kist”

  1. Hi thanks for your review 😁. I’m sorry you didn’t like the direction it took. Others felt the culprits got away lightly. The realisation that women don’t have similar views on our shared experiences is in fact what prompted this novel: wanting to question where the lines are and provoke conversations. It’s been very interesting to see how some feel strongly one way or the other.

    1. That’s the beauty of having a variety of readers! We can each have our own opinions about what’s appropriate and what’s not. So long as we can respect each others own feelings and thoughts. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking story!

  2. The old adage – two wrongs do not make a right. Though given the consequences of bad behaviour something has to be done to change it and it is often difficult to do that nicely.

    1. Yes, it’s difficult to manage behaviour like this. Knowing how far to go without going too far is a difficult one.

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