This Week’s Book Review – If You Can Get It

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

Two Sisters Finally Get Adulting

“If You Can Get It,” by Brendan Hodge, Ignatius Press, 2020, 285 pages, $16.95 (trade paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)

Jen Nilsson has it all, a great condo in California, a fast-track job in a Silicon Valley start-up, and a seemingly limitless future. Life is good and bound to get better. Then her sister Katie, ten years younger, and just out of college, calls and asks if she can move in with her big sister.  Katie can no longer stand living with their parents.

“If You Can Get It,” a novel by Brendan Hodge opens with this. Jen wants to say no, but Katie is not calling from their parents’ home near Chicago. She is right outside Jen’s California condo. Jobless Katie lacks the money to drive home. Jen is stuck. She has to say yes.

The two sisters prove separated by more than just a ten year age difference. Jen is a quintessential Gen-Xer, focused and deliberate. She is has the MBA and a fast-track career.  Katie is an archetypical Millenial, impulsive and spontaneous. Her degree is in comparative religion, preparing her for a job at Starbucks. Jen is an extrovert. Katie is an introvert.

Her sister’s arrival proves the first of several abrupt changes to Jen’s ordered life. Her start-up gets acquired. The new owner kills the product line Jen ramrodded into production. Jen is suddenly out of a job. She snaps up the first job offer she gets, despite feeling uncomfortable with it. Her father and a good friend advised against taking it, and Jen can survive comfortably until a better job appears, but Jen panics at being without a job.

The rest of the novel follows the adventures of the two young women. Jen and Katie both suffer the results of their impulsiveness. Jen’s uncharacteristically hasty acceptance of a job she was uncomfortable taking leads to a set of comic misadventures in China with for her new company. Katie, through her typical impetuousness, entangled her in a legal mix-up of which Jen is unaware.

As the novel progresses, the sisters turn out to need each other. Each sister provides something the other lacks. Katie helps Jen become less self-centered and self-absorbed. Jen guides Katie into responsibility and maturity. Ironically, the seemingly together Jen has further to go than chaotic Katie.

“If You Can Get It” is a delightful novel. The sisters’ misadventures are occasionally fraught, always amusing, and never tragic. Hodge offers insight into the meaning of family and what becoming an adult is really about.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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