My Thoughts On: I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

Posted September 22, 2011 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 4 Comments

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
by Allison Pearson
Published by Random House
Publish Date:  August 26, 2003

My Source:  Library


I Don’t Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson 

Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.  –(summary from

My Thoughts:  I started reading this book before I know anything about a movie. I only saw the teaser for the movie a couple of days ago and I have not seen the trailer. I am not, at this point, terribly interested in the movie. So this review is completely about the book. It’s purely coincidental that I finished the book at the same time the movie is released…(Always read the book first when you can!)

This book caught my eye because of the title. “I don’t know how she does it!” is a line I hear often in relation to women/gals/moms/career women juggling all of the jobs/tasks/hobbies/demands of day-to-day life. I was a bit intrigued, as this is something on my mind daily. Admittedly, I struggle with this like no one else.  I am a reader and I enjoy a good book, so I thought I’d see what Allison Pearson had to say about the topic of juggling a career with being a mother.

Kate Reddy. Bless her heart. She is wildly successful in ways that I could only dream about…in terms of her career. She is a hedge fund manager in a large corporation that employs mostly men. Kate also is married with two young children. She has a nanny to take care of them while she works very long hours and travels the world (almost constantly) and she feels absolutely miserable–it seems–almost all of the time.

Kate is miserable when she is at work because she feels guilt over not being at home with her children. She tries to compensate where school parties and programs are concerned, but she always ends up falling short. She is jealous of the time Paula (her nanny) spends with her children and the obvious affection they feel towards her. Kate has allowed her relationship with her husband to take a back burner to her career and motherhood, and she feels so far from Rich that she does not even know where to start to work on their relationship. So she doesn’t.

Kate is also miserable when she is home because she feels guilt over not working harder and longer hours. She wants to prove that women are just as good as men in the corporate world, even though women are never recognized as such. She wants to rise all the way to the top. She wants to be the best. She knows that the time that she has to take away from her work to spend with her family sets her behind the other men and childless women at her office, and she can barely stand this.

I found myself almost hating Kate in the first half of the book. There have not been many times in literature when I have found myself reading about characters as miserable as Kate Reddy. The more she tries to overcome her misery, the more miserable it makes her. I literally had to stop this book for a long time while I thought long and hard about Kate. I didn’t want to give up on her all together because I truly did not feel like I had given her a fair shot. I promised myself that I would push through, but I would take my time. I honestly wanted to give Kate the benefit of the doubt.

You guys, as I read I watched Kate make some really dumb decisions that blew up in her face. I would shake my head and say “No, no, no Kate…” to myself and silently hope that she would change her mind before I would get to the next page. Kate frustrated me quite a bit, but I began to realize that this was really important to set up the second half of the book. I needed to understand exactly how Kate got herself and her life in the mess it was in. Once I realized how she allowed herself to fall so far, watching Kate redeem herself was absolutely glorious. It really was. As cheesy as it sounds, I was her biggest cheerleader.

I’m so glad that I stuck with Kate because she showed so much character development over the length of this book. Over the course of the second half, I grew to hate her less and less, and by the end of the book–Kate was a completely different person. Ultimately, several big things happened in Kate’s life–to people that were important to her–that got her attention, that made her wake up and stop being so miserable all the time. Kate needed to make some decisions:  does she want to be a career woman or does she want to be a family woman?

Not only that, but Kate’s family suffered so much because of her over the course of the book. She spent the latter part of the book resolving several huge issues that BURNED me for a long time.

My final thoughts are this:  this book was so wonderful. I will read it again, and very soon. I will buy my own copy first, though. There are SO MANY quotes in there that I started writing down that I became overwhelmed and realized I was practically copying down the entire book. I admit that I didn’t give Kate Reddy a fair chance in the beginning. She made me mad, and it clouded everything she did for the first half of the book. So I will rectify this and read about her again. In the end, though, she has totally made my week.

I think this is an enjoyable book on so many different levels, depending on where you are in your life. I you love adult fiction, give it a chance. If you are a young adult fiction fan that loves witty humor, you might enjoy this as well. If you are a mother, you’ll almost certainly like it. Please, please, please READ IT FIRST.

I took the pledge to read this book first and I did!
You can too.
Also, DFTBA. ~Asheley


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


4 responses to “My Thoughts On: I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

  1. Thanks! I will probably eventually watch it. I just have so much invested in this book because I read it over the course of probably about six weeks, or maybe more. So I feel extremely passionate about the book so far. That's all. I didn't really mean to sound so harsh. 🙂


  2. I just devoured this book on a guilt-ridden business trip and identified so strongly with the character of Kate. It was the first time I have heard the working mom's voice articulated so clearly. I laughed out loud repeatedly on the plane and ultimately felt a little better about the decisions I have made in my life. A must-read.
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