How Hard Can It Be? is one of those delightful summertime reads that give us a plucky and witty heroine to cheer for as she struggles with enough problems to sink a battleship while we are comforted by the certainty that one way or another she will anchor that ship safely on the shore of happiness. She might not land at the port we were thinking of, but she will get there because that was these books promise us, and Allison Pearson delivers.

How Hard Can It Be? tells the story of Kate Reddy’s return to the workforce after a hiatus to focus on her family. Economics is one reason she must join the “returners”–the women returning to work after child-rearing. Her husband has taken a break from his work, to retrain for a new career, enter therapy, and to indulge in an expensive, new hobby. That’s a lot of outflow with no income. But it’s more than necessity for Kate, she wants to be using her skills, fulfilling herself in ways that homemaking cannot.

Kate was once a high-flying fund manager, but at 49, nearing 50, and bothered by perimenopausal symptoms, she knows that she won’t get a good job at her real age, so she decides to pass for 42. Her first interview with a headhunter confirms her suspicions. She does get a job, at the fund she founded years ago, a place where the economic crisis has cleared the office of anyone who might know her.

And so we follow Kate through the pains of parenting teenagers who seem pretty typical, the daughter troubled by social pressures and the son deep into video games, the travails of caring for her mother and in-laws as they age, and her stale marriage which both she and her husband neglect either from exhaustion or disinterest. And of course, there is her struggle to succeed at her job despite her annoying supervisor and coworkers, men who are in urgent need of a #MeToo exposé.

So, not for nothing, is her name Reddy to remind us of the anthemic “I Am Woman”? 

How Hard Can It Be? is a pleasant, light book. It won’t consume you, but it’s interesting and kind of a relief after some harrowing and difficult books. This is the book for the beach or the plane ride. It’s fun, it’s familiar, and while we don’t know what exactly will happen, we do know that we will be satisfied as will Kate Reddy.


How Hard Can It Be? will be released on June 5, 2018. I received an ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.