Review | Okay Fine Whatever, Courtenay Hameister

35397338Okay Fine Whatever is a funny, unflinchingly honest, and deeply relatable collection of essays by Courtenay Hameister about the year she decided to look her anxiety in the eye and basically tell it to fuck off, as she embarks on challenge after adventurous challenge.

Most of her challenges end up being in her romantic life, and linked to her body image issues. Hameister’s stories, about losing her virginity in her 30s, then making up for lost time by diving into online dating (meeting dozens of men and keeping track of them on a spreadsheet) and experimenting with a variety of sexual adventures all the way into her 40s, are a welcome addition to the bookshelf. Most books about romance and dating tend to feature only women in their 20s, or older women who’ve already been married and had kids, and very rarely are they plus-size. So I found Hameister’s adventures — and her courage in pursuing them — inspiring, and I love her candour in sharing her experiences.

Beyond the stories about dating and sex, Hameister also talks about her career, and the difficult decision she made to move on from being the host of her show. I love these chapters, because they’re an important alternative perspective on how to be successful in our careers. So often, we’re taught to go for the big promotion and go for whatever helps us make the biggest splash in our industry. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s also nothing wrong with what Hameister realizes — that because of her anxiety, she was actually miserable being in the public eye, and would be much happier behind the scenes. And later, when she realizes she’s no longer quite the right fit for what the show has become, she makes what I consider a truly brave decision — to pursue a new career path. Again, I found her experience to be inspirational, and I’m glad she shared these with us.

More than the impact of her experiences is the fact that her essays are just plain entertaining and fun to read. Hameister has a clever writing style that somehow pokes fun at herself without ever being fully self-deprecating. I think I was expecting more about anxiety itself in the book, but perhaps that’s a sign of my own biases that, because I haven’t myself been diagnosed with anxiety, I didn’t expect the book to be so relatable. Yet it is.

The book isn’t perfect. Some parts dragged, and even the dating adventures felt a bit drawn out after a while, and I began to wish she’d move on to other topics. But overall, it was a good book, and I think Hameister’s experiences will likely resonate with a lot of readers.

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Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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