BOOK REVIEW: Losing It by Emma Rathbone

Losing It
By: Emma Rathbone
Publication Date: 19 July 2016
Format: Ebook, 274 pages

Twenty-six year old Julia Greenfield has long suspected that everyone is having fun without her.

It’s not that she’s unhappy, per se. It’s just that she’s not exactly happy either.

She hasn’t done anything spontaneous since about 2003. Shouldn’t she be running a start up? Or going backpacking? Or exploring uncharted erogenous zones with inappropriate men?

Trapped between news of her mother’s latent sexual awakening and her spinster aunt’s odd behaviour – Julia has finally snapped. It’s time to take some risks, and get a life. (Goodreads)

A novel that explores what it feels like to have everyone move on while you’re left behind, Losing It by Emma Rathbone is all about one woman’s quest to finally lose her virginity.

Julia Greenfield is a twenty-six year old virgin, having never found the right time or right man to finally take the plunge with. She has a job she hates and frequently has to pretend she’s an expert on the opposite sex for the sake of faking it in front of her work colleagues. Her life has never quite gone the way she’d hoped, with her dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer dashed when someone better joined her college swim team.

Now, in an attempt to take back control, Julia quits her job and moves to the outskirts to stay with her Aunt Viv for the summer. Viv is a free spirit and an artist, but also aloof and lacking some social skills, with interactions between them being awkward at best. Nevertheless, Julia is determined to lose her virginity whilst she is there, in a place where no-one knows her and she can have a one night stand without any subsequent gossip.

A woman on a mission, Julia tries all manner of methods to get a man’s attention, from internet dating to flirting with a married man at her temporary workplace. She is totally desperate and consumed by her need for it, ignoring her Aunt Viv and being very disrespectful when her aunt has so kindly agreed to let her stay. When Julia then finds out that her aunt remains a virgin, she begins to question if there is a reason behind it and whether she is destined to become a spinster, alone for the rest of her days.

Upon reading the premise of this book, I was expecting a fun and frivolous tale full of comedy, perhaps ending with a touch of romance. Instead, I found a sad, desperate account of a woman so desperate to have sex that she doesn’t care who she hurts or how she gets it. She is prepared to flirt with anyone, old or young, completely forgetting any prior engagement she had with her aunt and letting her down at the most crucial moment. Despite the rare moments of comedy, I experienced more moments of uncomfortable awkwardness, and grew frustrated at the number of times Julia responds to conversations with just ‘cool’ or ‘okay’, showing very little interest in whoever she’s talking to.

As you’ve probably gathered, I didn’t like Julia as a character at all, and found her to be entirely self-centred and inconsiderate. She is so immersed in this wish to lose her virginity that nothing else matters, and she goes to extreme lengths to make it possible, showing absolutely no shame. From the outside she looks desperate, and to make matters even worse she shows no regard for Viv’s privacy and starts asking others why they think she’s still a virgin. Throughout it all I was expecting her to reveal her own secret to Viv, but she never opens up at all and their relationship seems entirely one sided.

I would have actually liked to find out more about Viv, as she is an enigma about which we are told very little, apart from the importance of her artwork. She has a private studio, which Julia selfishly invades, and creates intricate designs on plates, such as chronicling the knights of the round table in a series. She bites her tongue a lot where Julia is concerned, but I wanted to see a feistier side to her that might have lent her character some more depth, as she is quite one dimensional and difficult to relate to.

Overall, I must admit that this book didn’t entertain me as I had hoped and that I spent the entirety of it despising the characters and the desperation inherent in the plot. I couldn’t really associate with any of the characters and found many of the interactions between them to be awkward, with there not being any meaningful conversations held throughout. It felt very disjointed at times, and it didn’t help that Julia’s habit of imagining the type of sex those around her would enjoy was uncomfortable rather than amusing. I didn’t appreciate the humour of this book, and found some of it to be too crass, so this is not one that I would care to read again.

This book was not my cup of tea, with the protagonist being self-obsessed and hell-bent on her mission to lose her virginity, not caring who she hurts along the way. There are rare comedic moments, but overall I found myself getting more and more frustrated with this book and struggled to connect with the characters or the plotline. This might be good for a frivolous read, but not one that I care to repeat.




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