Not Meeting Mr Right – Anita Heiss
My Rating: Not Worth It
Suggested Audience: Women
Page Count: 340
Side Note: This is Post 1 of the I Love Library Books Blog Challenge
Alice Aigner is successful, independent, and a confirmed serial dater, but at her 10-year school reunion she has a sudden change of heart. Bored by her married, mortgaged, and motherly former classmates, Alice decides to prove that a woman can have it all: a man, marriage, career, kids, and a mind of her own. She sets herself a goal: meet the perfect man and marry him before her 30th birthday, just under two years away. Unfortunately for Alice, it’s not quite as easy as she imagines.
Not Meeting Mr Right is the first novel on That’s What She Read to receive a “Not Worth It” rating. I only have this rating after a lot of consideration and angst; I feel guilt because I know that Anita Heiss put a lot of work into it, and that this book will be perfect for SOMEONE but just not me.
As you read the blurb, Not Meeting Mr Right comes across as an Australian version of Bridget Jone’s Diary; a goofy, down-to-Earth single woman looking for her ‘Mr Right’.
Essential Selection Criteria for Mr Right
1. Must be single and straight
2. Must think I am the most gorgeous woman on the planet
3. Must be romantic and able to show affection in public
4. Must only be addicted to me (no alcoholics, no smokers)
5. Must be non-racist and non-homophobic
6. Must be punctual (although I am allowed to be on Koori time)
7. Must be good to his mother and like children
8. Must love his job (I don’t want him whinging every night about his day)
9. Must be debt free (mortgage will be acceptable)
10. Must be loyal, faithful, honest, sincere, chivalrous, witty, competent, responsible and a good listener.
Now please understand – I LOVE this kind of novel. I read this kind of novel every day. I began this book with a smile on my face. But I didn’t finish it. I didn’t come close.
My biggest frustration (and my only frustration) was the way that the protagonist, Alice, constantly refers to her race and ethnicity. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with a protagonist who has Aboriginal heritage. In fact, it was a reason I picked up this novel in the first place – I looked forward to reading a novel from a different perspective than the women’s literature I normally read. What I DO have a problem with however, is a protagonist who is constantly, constantly, constantly defining themselves by their race and their difference. In the first 18 pages, there are 9 references to Alice’s heritage and aboriginality in general:
“Debra was wrong about me being the first pregnant, but she was right about Koori women and kids generally. Fact was, most of the Koori women I knew had squeezed their kids out in their early twenties, some even before that, and none of them had blokes around now. Some of them had never had a bloke around at all.”
I found it incredibly frustrating to be repeatedly reminded of the protagonists skin colour and heritage. It’s not as though this is normal of women’s literature in general – you don’t see any of Jane Green’s heroines repeatedly reminding her audience that they are white. It’s not even just that – it is not an expectation of mine to have constant characterisation throughout the novel. It really is not a racism thing – as I said, I purchased this book BECAUSE of the Aboriginal protagonist. But I certainly didn’t purchase it for a race-debatesque read or a detailed understanding of a characters background and appearance; it honestly got so frequent that I felt like shouting “OK! ALICE IS ABORIGINAL. CAN WE START THE STORY NOW?”.
This might open a can of worms, but I also thought that there were aspects that could be interpreted as racist towards white people. Anita Heiss is also the author of I’m Not Racist, But.., and I guess I was expecting a bit more of a reflective fictional read which would compel the audience to see aboriginality not as a difference, but show similarities and encourage reconciliation and cohesion. By saying things like“I couldn’t even pull the race card this time; it wasn’t about being Black and white. It wasn’t about being rich or poor, as it had been at shcool. Rather, at twenty-eight it was about the haves and the have-nots.”, I couldn’t help but wonder what Anita Heiss’s intentions were when writing Not Meeting Mr Right.
The storyline itself had a lot of promise. Other than the amazingly frequent references to race, Not Meeting Mr Right seems to fit the mould of my preferred weekend read. If you are not as easily annoyed by constant characterisation, you might like to give it a try, but if you take my advice, you’ll leave this one on the shelf.
Where Can I Get It?
If you are still interested in giving Not Meeting Mr Right a try, you can purchase it from Book Depository here and receive free shipping on all orders!