Book review: Small Joys of Real Life, Allee Richards, Hachette

Friendship, desire, and growing up. In her debut novel, Allee Richard’s accepts that sometimes all you can do is be in the moment and appreciate the small joys in life.
Small Joys of Real Life by local Melbourne writer Alle Richards. Photo credit Bec Capp.

Set in inner-city Melbourne, Allee Richards debut novel Small Joys of Real Life is a story about a young woman’s journey through life. Both comforting and challenging, Richards captivates with her ability to beautifully depict Eva’s emotions and realisations.

An actor on the cusp of a brilliant career, Eva feels like a fraud. She is at the age where society says drinking, drugs and casual sex should make way for maturity. By now, you should know what direction you’re heading in. But Eva has no idea. Her closest friends are Sarah and Annie. Sarah is still pushing her boundaries. Annie has just been nominated for a high achiever’s award. And Eva, well, Eva is pregnant.

Pat, the father, dies and the aftershock leaves Eva on unsteady ground. Suddenly, she starts to question everything in her life, from her career to her housemates, to her friends. Like it or not, Eva is forced to make a choice. Throughout the novel, the reader empathetically follows Eva as she tries to decipher her next steps, and reflects on the steps that got her here.

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Richards brilliantly navigates the trials and tribulations of your late twenties, perfectly encapsulating that feeling of hopelessness. But she takes it a step further by eloquently illustrating the motions of life. Each phase of acceptance Eva experiences is poignantly written, and you can’t help but find some relation to what she is feeling. As Eva moves from grief and suffering to acceptance and gratitude, so too does the reader.

Small Joys of Real Life is an easy, pleasant read that will leave you with an inclination to look inwards and self-reflect on the small joys in your own life.

Small Joys of Real Life, Allee Richards
Publisher: Hachette
ISBN: 9780733645471
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300pp
Publication date: July 2021
RRP $32.99

Giselle Bueti has written for publications such as The Advertiser, The Adelaide Review, RIP IT UP, BMA magazine and Yewth Mag. Previously, Giselle worked as Arts Editor for The AU Review and Content Growth Editor at ArtsHub. She is based in Melbourne, Victoria.