Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone by Gemma Crisp

In brief: Nina’s back and this time she’s the editor of the celebrity gossip magazine, Juice. But everything turns pear shaped as her friends all begin having children and she’s a reluctant reality TV star…

The good: Great sequel to Be Careful What You Wish For.

The not-so-good: Oh Nina, promise me you’ll grow up just a little!

Why I chose it: Sent to me by Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room – thank you for fulfilling my magazine fiction cravings!

Year: 2014

Pages: 280

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Setting: Australia and New York City

My rating: 8 out of 10

After finishing Be Careful What You Wish For, I was very, very glad that I had the second book about Nina Morey, Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone in my possession for immediate commencement. The first book ended on such an unexpected fate for editor Nina Morey that I just had to know what happened to her. Did she manage to pick herself up and get back into things, or was she still self-medicating with vodka as she lost control? Happily, I can tell you that the Nina we meet some time later is happily back in the magazine industry and in control as the editor of the celebrity weekly, Juice. She’s got away from the bully Lizzie and seems to be more grounded in reality than the first book. Although she’s split with Jeremy, her boyfriend, she’s happy and has a team of friends who help her to see that life is not all about cover shoots, product launches and deadlines.

Everything appears to be going swimmingly for Nina – she’s planning a New York girls’ trip with her friend Heidi and work is sweet. But then two curveballs hit her – all her friends are getting pregnant and going baby ga-ga while her magazine is being turned into a reality television programme. Both these things cause Nina to lose the plot as she’s no longer in control. Will she lose her friends as her celebrity status goes upwards? Will she be able to handle fame? Who is intent on bringing Nina down?

Crisp once again puts Nina in a number of very awkward positions and sometimes her reactions are childish and cringe worthy (but completely honest – somewhat of a redeeming feature). Nina’s reactions to her friends getting pregnant in quick succession is somewhat like a toddler temper tantrum, yet the things she says show how scared she is of change. If you’ve been through a similar situation (or even the ‘all my friends are getting married and turning into complete Bridezillas’), it’s easier to empathise with Nina – even though you wouldn’t have said that yourself. While Nina comes across as immature at times, there’s the theme of female competitiveness and having your friends move through life at a different pace to you. Nina’s scared she won’t be able to relate to her pregnant friends and will lose the camaraderie of the big night out, which I think is true for many stages of life for young women – can you still maintain a friendship when your priorities and commitments are completely different? Is Nina behind because she’s boyfriend-less? Was she wrong to choose career? This book relates a lot of the issues affecting young women today in a humorous fashion.

The other main issue affecting Nina in this novel is her accession to fame. Once only a photo on an editor’s letter, she’s now the star of Freshly Squeezed Juice, magazine reality show. She’s recognised in the street, had pictures taken with strangers for Instagram and gets quite a few perks and freebies. While it’s fun at first, Nina soon gets sick of it as it’s interfering with her job and lifestyle. She whinges to the wrong person, which is taken completely out of proportion and suddenly her creditability is on the life. I found this interesting, the way a comment or two is taken out of context and spread over the media until it’s a storm across the media. It’s another reflection of how women can be really cruel to each other.

In between these serious issues, there’s a big fun story to be had. Nina’s still a clueless innocent at times (an incident with self-harm has Nina thinking her friend has a rare dermatological disorder) but she’s loveable and learning. I’d love to see Nina return just to check she gets her happy ever after.

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