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Magan: Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Book Review of Holier Than Thou by Laura BuzoHolier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 291
Target audience: New Adult Fiction / Adult Fiction
Keywords: miserable job, death of a parent, grief, friendly coworkers
Format read: Received from Mandee at VeganYANerds (Thank you!)

Summary: Holly doesn’t deal well with change, but everything around her is evolving. She doesn’t love her job, but she pours herself into it so she doesn’t have to focus on the friendships that aren’t the same anymore or her mother who is much closer to her brother.

As a social worker, Holly’s main focus is mental health patients. To get through her long, long days where she often feels overworked and under-appreciated, she has her best work buddy, Nick. He’s clever and understands her, and often they are paired up together to visit patients. At home, Holly lives with her supportive, kind, geeky boyfriend Tim. She’s excited for all the things they get to experience together and enjoys spying on her next door neighbors.

Holly balances present day (as a young 20-something) with flashbacks from the past. It’s a bit difficult at first to figure out what’s happening in her life, but I settled into the rhythm of Buzo’s intelligent writing quickly. Holly’s battling a lot of things. She’s still reeling from the death of her father who died when she was 15 years old. Her mother is difficult and their relationship isn’t the best. She feels more connected to her high school best friends than she does to her own family, especially since her mother tends to favor her younger brother, Patty.

To avoid dealing with the past (in which there’s a vague story about a boy named Liam that Holly was in love with for a long time), she throws herself into her work. All of her attention and effort are focused on her job. She’s a perfectionist and feels like she can “fix” everyone else.

But what she doesn’t realize is that she needs to heal.

She’s never allowed herself time to properly grieve any of the big circumstances that have happened in her life. She’s always pushed forward. She pretends that life will just carry on. She struggles with accepting change, especially when she begins to realize that her friendships are a blurry version of what they used to be. But what she wants is for her friendships and the people in her life to stay the same, for no one to ever change. It throws her off kilter when everything begins to shift.

Holly’s story, while a simplistic one, is very realistic. As a 27 year old lady, I could very much relate to what Holly was going through. In my personal life, I’ve absolutely struggled with severed friendships and moving on. I’ve cried on countless occasions over people that I no longer see or talk to because we’ve just grown apart. Change is evil. I also fear a lot of things for the future; I have personally never lost a parent or grandparent, so anytime someone is sick or hospitalized, I freak out and go crazy. My family is very close and I just shut down. Essentially, Holly was so focused on fixing everyone else that she didn’t even realize she had all these barriers built up around her to protect her from anything bad that could happen.

This was my second read by Laura Buzo and while the writing was sometimes a bit abrupt when I was sorting through changes in scenery or flashbacks, I still felt incredibly connected to Holly. I really, really enjoyed reading aboutย someone I could relate to so well. Holly is just an ordinary girl going through ordinary life things. I felt very involved in her well-being, and had such a good grasp on her friends, family, coworkers, and even clients. Buzo did what she does best in Holier Than Thou — she explored the life of someone who’s extremely relatable and told her story in a way that causes you to step back and examine your own.

Thank you to the lovely Mandee at VeganYANerds for sharing Holier Than Thou with me. Check out Mandee’s review here. I sent my copy on a little mini tour, so I’ll link up those reviews below when they’re published.

  • Ginger at GReads! said, “…[the] story reached out to me and delivered a message I hadn’t known I’d been searching for.”

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March 12, 2013 - 12:14 am

Magan - Thanks so much, Amy. I think you really nailed it. I love Aussie books so much, too. There’s just something that pulls me in and I wish I could find an American writer that gave me the same feeling, but so far, I’m coming up short. Thank you so much for stopping by!

March 11, 2013 - 9:54 pm

Amy @ Tripping Over Books - Super late to this one! Apologies for being behind the times, but I’ve had this one on my kindle for a little while and it’s always attractive to me when I’m flipping through my NG arcs. I always have a feeling that Aussie contemps seem less frivolous to me, or more intense somehow? I haven’t read many Aussie contemps, but the ones I have read sound like this one: more serious, less fluffy, more thoughtful. NOT that I’m knocking light fluff! I LOVE THAT LIKE ICE CREAM. But sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little darker, and this one sounds just like that. I’ll have to read it soon!
Lovely review, Magan!

March 10, 2013 - 12:01 am

Rather Be Reading: Magan's Shelve It for March 10, 2013 - […] + Big Kids’ Table — Authors Who’ve Written Adult and YA Books + A Review of Trinkets by Kirsten Smith + A Review of Being Henry David by Cal Armistead + Estelle’s Anniversary Post about Marriage, Magic + Books + A Review of Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo […]

March 7, 2013 - 8:05 pm

Magan - Bookworm, I emailed you about this, but definitely don’t be disappointed it’s Adult. It’s really, really … not. I think no matter your age, you can relate to Holly’s story. She’s just out of college so it’s not like she’s old and has experienced a lot that we haven’t. I do hope you’ll read it! ๐Ÿ™‚

March 7, 2013 - 8:02 pm

Magan - Thank you, Ginger — and you’re so welcome! I feel like you connected in such a deep way to Holly’s story. So glad I was able to share that with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

March 7, 2013 - 8:01 pm

Magan - Mandee, thank you again (x 1,000,000) for sharing Holier Than Thou with me. You’re so right — her issues were so real to me. I understood every one of them because I’ve been through situations (and currently am, actually, with friends) just like hers. I wish things didn’t have to change (for the worst — love with when things improve, of course).

Thank you again! xoxo

March 7, 2013 - 7:58 pm

Magan - Christina, I really didn’t feel like there were any big flaws that would make me say “don’t read this.” It just took a bit of time for me to get into the groove of the back and forth between present and past. The cast was definitely fantastic! Hope you added it to your TBR!

March 7, 2013 - 7:56 pm

Magan - Lisa, Ginger IS quotable! Love her. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you, of course! Yeah, this was such a nice surprise — so glad to pick it up and be able to relate so well. Definitely wasn’t expecting that at all!

March 7, 2013 - 7:55 pm

Magan - Cynthia — definitely don’t think of this one as adult. She’s kind of in this relateable stage of life where I knew EXACTLY how she felt. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for the sweet comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

March 7, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Magan - Alexa, Holier Than Thou was totally just about Holly’s journey and that was so nice to see. Sometimes there are just too many “things”, ya know? This was just about her breaking down her barriers and dealing with her problems. ๐Ÿ™‚

March 7, 2013 - 7:53 pm

Magan - Yippie, Anna! So glad it’s coming up in your pile o’ books. You’re so welcome, lady! Any time! ๐Ÿ™‚

March 5, 2013 - 8:40 am

Anna - Whee reading this next because you are SO KIND AND GENEROUS with the loaning of books! xo

March 4, 2013 - 5:14 pm

Alexa Y. - This sounds so interesting! Sometimes, a story is all about the character and this certainly sounds like it’s all about how Holly deals with everything. I’d definitely want to read this!

March 4, 2013 - 5:03 pm

Cynthia - Heard about this one through Ginger and immediately added it to my list.Even though I’m not much of a adult genre reader I feel like this is one that I would have no trouble relating to and enjoy since I’m also afraid of change and always look back at all those severed friendships I used to have. Great review Magan! ๐Ÿ™‚

March 4, 2013 - 4:12 pm

Lisa [is busy nerding] - That Ginger is so quotable, isn’t she?!

Also, this sounds incredible. I love the idea of a book giving you something you didn’t know you were looking for or needed. So beautiful.

March 4, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) - Okay, I definitely need to read this, because all of the characters sound so well developed. I can forgive a fair number of flaws for a lifelike cast. You have my attention!

March 4, 2013 - 4:06 pm

VeganYANerds - I am so glad you loved this, too, Magan! I really connected with Holly as well, and I think this is a great book for readers in their 20s/30s because we’ve all been through what Holly has, or at least similar situations. I felt like this book was written for me.

Love your review and that you’ve toured the book!

March 4, 2013 - 8:44 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Beautiful review, Magan! And thank you again for allowing me to borrow this & read it. It’s definitely been a book to remember. I only read it a few weeks ago, yet it still floats in & out of my head at times. You know that’s a sign of amazing literature when you can grasp a story that personally.

March 4, 2013 - 12:53 am

Bookworm1858 - I really liked Love & Other Perishable Items by Buzo so I’m very interested in checking out more of her work. I’m a bit disappointed that this is adult as I just tend to read more YA but I am still interested in checking it out now that I know a bit more about it.

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