Every once in a while a novel comes along that tackles a touchy subject many secretly wonder about. It touches a chord within readers, especially when they can identify with many of the situations that the main character is faced with. Many women will experience this phenomenon when they read Wendy Tokunaga’s debut novel No Kidding. While this book is not particularly brilliant or exceedingly well-written, it is very down to earth and contains a surprising amount of suspense, which will engage the reader thoroughly once they get past the slow beginning.
With so much pressure in society on women to settle down, get married and have children, a rather difficult problem is sometimes presented when a woman has no desire to have children of her own. When that woman’s mother and friends are constantly pressuring the woman to “settle down” and “have kids,” the problem magnifies, and she could experience guilt for her lack of desire to procreate. This is the situation that the protagonist Audrey faces in No Kidding. She is thirty-five, lives with her boyfriend, and has absolutely no desire to have children of her own. She is well aware that her biological clock is ticking away, yet for the most part she is content with her life.
However, Audrey’s best friend suddenly delivers a shocking piece of news: she is pregnant, and thrilled about it. This friend has always commiserated with Audrey about not wanting kids and was very adamant about it herself. Audrey starts feeling unsettled and unsure of her own choice. At the same time, her mother is pressuring her to get married and start a family, and there seems to be a new baby shower to attend every week. To make matters even more confusing, Audrey’s live-in boyfriend begins dropping hints that he wants to “settle down.” As Audrey struggles through her own uncertainty and feelings of guilt, she also tries to cope with her growing feeling of attraction for a new handsome and interesting coworker.
Set in Northern California, No Kidding is an engaging and straightforward story about one woman’s search to find her true self and what she wants in a society full of pressure. Any women grappling with such issues herself or who knows of anyone who is might really enjoy this novel. It is also a good, satisfying and suspenseful read for anyone looking to be entertained. The only downside to the novel is that it starts slowly and is written very simply. However, it gets a four-star rating because it eventually manages to capture and hold the reader’s attention.