Mind-blowing? Have you asked for a mind-blowing read?
Title: Stay Mad, Sweetheart
Author: Heleen Kist
Date of publication: 19 November 2019
Publisher: Red Dog Press
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.
Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a mantra, a warning… a threat? But most of all, an outstanding piece on the warped world we live in.
The world explodes for bookworm and introvert Laura when her best friend Emily finds herself at the heart of an online storm. Does it sound familiar? Unfortunately, yes. Emily raised her voice against a man’s behavior. She revealed a troubling night with someone famous, hoping her voice would help other women to not accept this situation, and to shame men whose definition of consent is blurry.
Laura is sad, yes, but also terribly mad. Who are those people who hold the power to make someone’s life hell? Who are the judges and the executioners? Desperate to hold someone responsible, she will use her knowledge of technology and position as data scientist to track who she sees as guilty.
On her path to the truth, she will join forces with Suki, amazing at deciphering corporate finances, and Claire, event planner and former colleague of Emily. Their lives are colliding as Laura’s startup is on the verge of being bought for millions. In their different fields, they are faced with what too many people see as normal – sexism, inequity, inappropriate … everything! You name it. It took me a long good read to realise we still often stay passive, letting things wash us over. This made me mad. Society has changed, so should we. And Laura, Suki, and Claire agree with me so much they plan ways to fight back and punish the men who make their life a misery.
Heleen Kist doesn’t surf on the #MeToo movement, she reminds us of the roots of it. She pinpoints what’s wrong with the way we live, but also how easy it is to slide on the other side for the name of justice. The women in this book are very different, but united in their hope to make a difference, for Emily and for themselves. Struggling and with only little weapons against what looks like a brick wall, they plan, they try. When things backfire, they learn. No, they are not innocent. Laura’s thirst for vengeance becomes obsessive and the line between rearranging the world and becoming one of the bad guys is fine. Is it okay to kill fire with fire?
Stay Mad, Sweetheart is an astonishing still of our society’s unease. It captures the craziness around us, while emphasizing the strength we possess, and need, to change things. Small changes, big changes, they need our brain and courage to happen.
Heleen Kist gave me three new friends. I recognized myself in them, picking a trait of character in one, smiling at another’s habit. The author doesn’t romanticize anything, she offers an authentic battle for a better world. Now, don’t believe that because this book is important and denounces the flaws in our society, you will find a condescending tone and big lessons in there. The heart of the novel is what’s important and the author has built a realistic and relatable story around it.
Don’t think this book is about women and for women. We are in this all together. Some things are not okay, and those things come from both sides!
I wish I could talk about every element that makes Stay Mad, Sweetheart more than a topical book. Imagine scientists able to identify trolls and use data to do some good. Think of our use of social media, good and bad. Remember the importance of friendship. Feel the tension of plotting in the dark for something you believe in.
Stay Mad, Sweetheart is a must-read for more reasons than I can count.
I can’t thank Red Dog Press enough for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
Heleen Kist is a Dutch quintilingual Stanford-educated globetrotting career woman who fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.