Back in 2004, we were introduced to Karen, Charlotte and Nan in The Bad Mother’s Handbook and they’re back in Bad Mothers United. Charlotte is now at York University, travelling back home to see her son, Will whenever she can while Karen is juggling her job as a teaching assistant with taking care of her two year old grandson. Karen is beyond frazzled but perks up when she meets her new sexy neighbour, Eric. Eric is a single father and starts to rely on Karen to help with his young son, Kenzie but Karen doesn’t seem to mind too much as the pair grow closer.
Charlotte is trying her best to separate her life as a mum to Will and her student life in York but feels she is missing out on both worlds and takes her frustration out on loyal boyfriend, Dan. Charlotte and Dan have been together for three years but they’re both feeling the strain and their relationship begins to crumble.
When I heard there would be a follow up to The Bad Mother’s Handbook, I assumed it would take place in the present day but it picks up a couple of years down the line from the previous book. Will is now two and Charlotte is at university. I did feel for Charlotte as she was pulled in two directions, wanting to further her education and make a better life for herself and her son but missing out on being a mum to him on a day to day basis but I also wanted to give her a good shake as she became stroppy and argumentative, pushing Dan away. Dan is loyal and patient but he can only be pushed so far and that is when the cracks start to appear in their relationship.
I also felt for Karen who wants the best for her daughter and makes sacrifices so that she can be there to care for Will but I don’t think Charlotte always appreciates what her mother is giving up for her and there is also the problem of their different approaches to parenthood. Karen and Charlotte don’t always have the most solid relationship but it was nice to see a better understanding develop between them towards the end.
I was sad to learn that Nan had died but she is still there in book through tape recordings Karen made while trying to learn more about Nan’s history and these were my favourite parts of the book. They were bitter sweet moments as Nan is suffering from dementia and her mind is deteriorating but they are still full of warmth and humour and the book wouldn’t be the same without Nan.
I liked how parts of the previous book flowed through to this one, such as Karen’s confused relationship with her ex husband, Steve and her adoption but I also liked the new elements too, with Charlotte’s life away in York and Karen’s new love interest. It has been a long time since I’ve read The Bad Mother’s Handbook but there were reminders of past storylines and I don’t think you have to have read the previous book to enjoy this one too.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review