In DAUGHTER OF CAREFUL-ISH: What Have We Learned? Nothing! by Honey Parker, life in the time of COVID continues for a company of six friends living in the Big Apple. As these 20-somethings navigate life in the manner that modern-day, quasi-adults will do, the impact of the virus complicates their Generation Z existences. It is also the catalyst that has drawn the former high school friends back into a common orbit in a universe that has thrown their individual worlds a surprise curve ball. Tech-dependent and social media-driven, these characters endeavor to establish themselves sexually, financially, socially and emotionally even as they are thrown off course by the sudden constraints of quarantines, social distancing, masking protocols and such. Charting a path to fulfillment was already a challenging undertaking. Now, it’s just downright confusing and prickly. The story opens with an amusing peek inside the friends’ respective living quarters, where each is awakening to the reality of life under lockdown as well as the resulting hangovers brought on by their predictable attempts to deal with it. (A sequel to Parker’s CAREFUL-ISH: A Ridiculous Romp Through COVID-Living As Seen Through The Eyes Of Ridiculous People, this story begins where the previous book left off.) It is a time that demands a certain level of “careful-ish-ness,” though some friends prove to be less careful-ish than others.
Not 20-something? No problem. You don’t have to be a “zoomer” to understand or be entertained by this diverse group of stumbling individuals who fight to retain a foothold on normalcy via video-chat cocktail hours and other contemporary strategies during the cosmic-size shift brought by COVID-19. Still, each friend is mired in a lifestyle that may seem more relatable to young, career-oriented adult readers. There’s Jewish good girl, Steph, a television journalist riding a career roller coaster that invites not-so-nice public discourse on social media outlets. Kimi, who designs floral arrangements, is a closeted lesbian who agonizes over how to tell her Asian parents she is engaged to a Cuban-American woman. Shad is an African American man who manages money for a living under a nightmare of a boss while aspiring to up his romantic standing, pandemic be damned. For the socially awkward Benji, however, the global health crisis seems to enhance his ability to make love connections while hunky, unemployed actor, Jackson, is faced with his shortcomings as a real-life leading man. At the core of the book there’s The Joy, a boisterous, white cosmetologist and drama queen who takes the uncommon step of adding a common article to her name, all to sensational effect. When it comes to pandemic protocols and risks, she adopts a lightweight attitude and continues to jaunt through life – until tasked with masking up and flying to Tampa to care for a reproachful mother who lives in a senior community where the 60-plus crowd is shockingly and hilariously “uncareful-ish.” Under the influence of her own recklessness, The Joy seems to trump them all by crossing lines without a care for taboos.
DAUGHTER OF CAREFUL-ISH by Honey Parker strikes a tone that captures the clipped, urgent, sometimes maddening dynamics reflective of life as a 20-something trying to make sense of a world gone awry. It is much like the proverbial train wreck – watching this crew and their ilk is both irresistible and discomforting. It is also telling in the sense that their travails mirror the insanity of what happens when the world suddenly wobbles on its axis, sending its inhabitants fighting to find purchase on a slippery surface made even less stable by paralyzing circumstances out of their control. The characters might not learn obvious lessons, but their example may elicit in readers a meaningful pause that allows for dissection of the broader national psyche. That said, readers may or may not be sympathetic to the issues faced by these friends, something likely determined by the depth and breadth of generational gaps. For readers of any age, though, the real beauty of this juicy read is that – for a few hours, at least – the realities of the pandemic become someone else’s problem.
DAUGHTER OF CAREFUL-ISH by Honey Parker smartly captures the clipped, urgent, maddening and often misguided dynamics that arise as young adults navigate a pandemic and try to make sense of a world gone awry.
~Libby Wiersema for IndieReader