Rachel’s Holiday is the story of an Irish girl living in New York, written by Marian Keyes. Rachel has gotten caught up in the city lifestyle with her roommate Brigit, and is getting completely out of control. They party, get drunk, take drugs, and have a laugh at the expense of the ‘Real Men,’ a group of Irish lads, who include her current boyfriend Luke. But when Brigit suddenly ‘goes weird on her,’ and it looks like Luke is turning his back too, it may be time for Rachel to go home.
In the beginning Rachel just seems like someone who has got in a bit over her head. But as we follow her story, it looks like there is a lot more to it. The way Keyes switches between Rachel’s past and present really helps us to understand her story. Rather than everything being spelt out by the characters, we see the past from Rachel’s point of view.When some bad poetry and a few too many pills get mistaken for a suicide attempt, she reluctantly lets her family book her into the Cloister’s. The only thing stopping her running back to New York is the chance to meet some celebrities and the thought of a well-deserved break. But it turns out to be less of what she wants, and more of what she needs.
Keyes makes it easy to empathise with Rachel, without feeling sorry for her. The book focuses on the reasoning behind addiction and how it can destroy relationships. The residents of Cloisters aren’t stereotypical characters. But they do give us an insight into addiction. There are moments where you want to shout at Rachel because she never learns from her mistakes first time round. But it makes the story a lot more interesting, and she does learn eventually, with the help of her new friends.
A nice thing about this story is that it doesn’t surround the love between a couple, but families, old friends, and building new friendships. When Rachel’s family, Brigit and Luke visit the Cloisters we see a very good indication of how addiction affects the other side. The whole subject of addiction is presented very well without going into detail that isn’t needed.
Although the ending may be seen as a bit predictable, it’s because it naturally flows in that direction. While there are some serious issues covered in the story, Rachel’s hysterical outbursts and irrational thoughts can be hilarious at times. So there was no chance of a sad ending for this character.
I received Rachel’s Holiday as a free eBook from iPad’s 12 Days of Christmas, and I’m very glad I decided to download it. It’s a great story of how life can change in an instant. Even for someone without an addiction, it shows how hitting rock bottom just means you get to build yourself back up as a better person. It’s book 2 in the Walsh Family Series. I’ll be reading book 1, Watermelon, (based on Rachel’s older sister Claire) soon so look for a review in the future.