July 2024

Humor Me

By Cat Shook
Review by
Like the women of Sex and the City, Humor Me’s protagonist Presley Fry breezes through connections with near-boyfriends, drinks with gal pals and career-enhancing forays in NYC, but the specter of her late mother haunts her at every step.
Share this Article:

The British poet Philip Larkin once famously opined that parents “fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you.” Protagonist Presley Fry in Cat Shook’s sophomore novel, Humor Me, could find many faults with her alcoholic mother and their toxic relationship. But after suddenly losing her, 20-something Presley is a bit of an emotional wreck. 

On the surface, it would seem that Presley’s well on her way to having it all: After moving from a small town in Georgia to New York City, she’s landed a gig as a production assistant on Gary Madden’s Late Night Show, with a supportive boss and an imminent promotion to talent booker. Like many city-dwelling professionals her age, Presley has a roommate, Izzy, who acts by turns as agony aunt and partner in crime. 

Much like the women of Sex and the City—she identifies as a Miranda—Presley breezes through a frothy sequence of confusing connections with near-boyfriends, drinks with gal pals at local nightspots and career-enhancing forays into the lower rungs of the entertainment industry, where she hopes to discover the unpolished gem upon whom she can hitch her own star. But the specter of her late mother haunts her at every step. 

And Presley is not the only one mourning her mother’s death. Susan Clark, her mother’s childhood best friend, is also working through her grief, with a side of distress over her wealthy and influential husband having been named in a #MeToo-era sexual misconduct scandal. After a couple of semi-awkward interactions (which seem to be the only type of interaction Presley has), Susan asks to be friends, and Presley somewhat reluctantly accepts. The relationship turns out to be fortuitous for both of them: Susan gets to spoil the daughter she never had, and Presley gains some valuable insight into her mother’s formative years. 

Though it certainly has rom-com-esque appeal, Humor Me goes beyond that, navigating the complexities of breaking old patterns, forging new connections and establishing one’s identity. It’s also a bit of a love letter to the City That Never Sleeps, even if its inhabitants do, occasionally to their detriment . . . and sometimes to their delight.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Humor Me

Humor Me

By Cat Shook
ISBN 9781250904713

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.