Top critical review
Speaking of drugs, send Prozac
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2020
I can see I’m an outlier here, but I really didn’t enjoy this book. Admittedly, the subject matter is grim (broken families, working class neighborhoods, kids dropping out of school, poverty, drugs, sex workers, murder), but lord, this is BLEAK.
Perhaps it would have been easier to take if Mickey had been a more likeable protagonist, but she’s not. She’s 33 and still hasn’t stopped resenting things that happened when she was a kid. She’s humorless. She's self-righteous. She has thirteen years on the police force, but claims she can’t afford a decent apartment or reliable childcare and spends a crazy % of the book arranging that care, mostly asking for it free or for sub-minimum wage from other women. She seems to spend almost nothing on clothes (but resents women who do); she barely drinks, doesn’t smoke – where is her money going? Why hasn't she, after almost five years, realized that she needs reliable childcare? And why hasn't she realized that she needs to transfer to a job that has childcare-friendly schedules? They do exist; look at how she met the baby-daddy. He transferred to the Police Athletic League when he had a son, precisely to avoid the tyranny of schedules that rotate between 8a-4p, 4p-midnight, or midnight-8a. It must be impossible to arrange childcare around such a schedule, but Mickey acts as though she has no choice when she indeed has one.
Google tells me that cops with her seniority in PA make a lot more than school teachers, (as in, they make $60-$80k/yr: nowhere near poverty. The author describes it as poverty; it is not) yet she aspires to be a teacher because (as far as I can tell) she thinks it’s a classier occupation. I mean, yes, her childhood was terrible, but people have overcome worse without a massive chip on the shoulder and lingering class resentment.
The other characters are very thinly-drawn. Is it my imagination or are all the men a bit slow-witted?
I've edited this review since I first wrote it. I read the book again. Nothing changes my initial impression, but the last 5% of the book redeems it a bit. I don't want to read 95% for the last 5%.
If I were Amy Pascal, I’d hire rewrite on the Mickey character.