Annie Beaton's Year of Positive Thinking
“Can one woman’s life go from crappy to happy in just one year?” That is the question on the cover of Mink Elliott’s Annie Beaton’s Year of Positive Thinking and I’d have to answer “Not in this case!”
On her fiftieth birthday, Annie Beaton loses her job and her marriage. Instead of giving Annie chocolates and roses, her husband asks for a divorce and walks out. Annie is at a complete loss – she’s an older mom of two kids (ages five and nine) – has no employment prospects, and is pretty sure her husband will provide as little support as possible. Annie decides to take her Aunt Audrey up on an offer to rent Audrey’s cottage in the countryside (while the aunt is away traveling for the year) and moves her gang out to the Chilterns.
Aunt Audrey is a self-help junkie and the cottage is crammed with her books – one of which Annie decides to try out – A Year of Positive Thinking. While Annie is enrolling her kids in the not-so-local school, trying to find some employment, testing the waters on new friendships, and setting up house, she decides to look for the positive points in her life, writing down at least three per day.
I was drawn to the idea of this book and happily claimed a review copy. But instead of feeling positive and hopeful for Annie, by the end of the book I’d pretty much given up on her and found myself annoyed, frustrated and not at all inspired. Annie never really gets her life together – she just seems to bounce from one disaster to the next, never taking charge of anything, and letting people walk all over her. Her nine-year-old daughter frequently calls her a “fat cow”, her ‘friends’ (and I question that term) also put her down and even convince her to go out drinking when she and they know that alcohol makes her crazy, and her new boss offers her a job without any pay for a while … No amount of positive-thinking-icing is going to save this cake.
Annie’s relationship with her friends is baffling. They seem to be stuck in the same roles they developed “at Uni” and have never moved beyond them. One of her best friends has been cheated on by her boyfriend/husband for years and Annie has never told her and here’s why:
And he is very funny. Not that that’s any kind of excuse or anything, it’s just that she, adopted at birth, would be irreparably broken by his betrayal, even if she took him back.
I couldn’t even begin to follow that kind of logic!
If it wasn’t bad enough that Annie continued to let those close to her abuse her, she abuses herself (and continues to do so to the end of the book) by putting herself down, comparing her legs to “sausage links” and stating how “fat” she is at least a dozen times. She criticizes her hair, her computer skills, her driving, her parenting; and the decisions she makes… I kept thinking – is she fifty or twenty? This was supposed to be comedic but I found myself cringing more often than laughing.
By the end of the book, Annie somehow has suddenly attracted the interest of two men but frankly, it wasn’t believable that either of them would be interested in her after the picture that has been painted of her for the past 300 pages. Annie never “embraces flaws and imperfections” as insinuated in the epigraph nor does she seem to learn from her mistakes. It’s going to take much more than one year of positive thinking to turn Annie around. Readers, pick something else to uplift and entertain you!