Ellie Winters has a multitude of problems. First, there’s her job. She’s an attorney at a high-powered D.C. litigation firm, but she despises her job and dreads going to work every day. Then there’s her love life (or lack thereof). She’s just broken up with her boyfriend Eric, who was basically the clone of the last six boyfriends she’s had -- none of whom did anything for her. Finally, there’s her family. Her mother is selfish and dramatic, her father is closed off and thinks of nothing but work, and her two brothers’ lives seem to be falling apart.
Ellie is walking her prima donna pug one day after another botched dye job has left her with pink hair when she runs into Ted Langdon, a prominent newsman, on the street. Sparks instantly fly even though Ted is twenty years her senior. After another chance meeting at a work function, Ted and Ellie go on a disastrous date during which Ted admits to Ellie that he thought she was at least eight years older than her twenty-nine years. Ellie walks out on him.
Despite the nightmare that was their first date, Ellie and Ted continue seeing each other, and Ellie discovers that Ted is everything she’s ever wanted in a partner. Unfortunately, she seems to be the only one who feels that way. Ted is overly concerned about their age difference, her friends all think she’s crazy and her family is too caught up in their own dramas to care. Add in Ted’s malicious ex-wife and a back-stabbing co-worker at her law firm, and Ellie has got her hands — and her life — quite full of problems. How will she ever get everything straightened out before she reaches the critical age of thirty?
Pushing 30 by Whitney Gaskell is a delightful book that introduces a bright and witty heroine whom the reader quickly becomes attached to. Her trials and tribulations are especially interesting because we want so badly for everything to turn out well for her. It doesn’t hurt that the plot moves along quickly, the dialogue sounds real and the situations ring true. Unfortunately, the character of Ted is not fleshed out as much as he could have been, which hurts the authenticity of Ellie’s strong feelings for him. There is also an issue with her parents that isn’t resolved in the end, but this helps the book not fall into the "everyone lives happily ever after" trap.
Overall, Pushing 30 is a light read with an irrepressible and likable main character. Ellie’s struggle to find stability and happiness in her life is one that almost everyone can relate to -- even if they’ve never worked in a stuffy law firm or experienced a May-December romance. This is Gaskell’s first novel; we can hopefully expect many more quality reads from her in the future.