Reviewed: Look For The Effin Rainbows By Irene Wignall

I have to be honest and say I’m not a fan of self-help books generally, I often find them to be too generic and, quite frankly, half the time they are stating the bloody obvious. But ‘Look for the effin Rainbows’ by new author, police detective Irene Wignall is a self help guide with a difference. It is a diary of the shitshow that was 2020, complete with working from home, lockdown, home schooling and the tier system, whilst also dealing with the fact that she was recovering from a brain tumour (Brian) and was celebrating a year being teetotal in a year that could’ve been designed to make you drink. What follows is a very funny, often laugh out loud funny, book which also gives you some very practical tips on how to cope with the joys life throws at you.

The book is set out with a chapter for each month of 2020, and those early months give a knowing nod as to what is going to happen from March onwards, as plans are made for travel and weekends away, as well as promotion for a previous book, which we just know are not going to happen. Once we reach March, we are faced with a situation of what Irene (and we) thought would be a three week lockdown which may have been a way to reconnect with our home and family. The truth was something that lasted much longer and was rather more difficult. Irene recounts all this with humour, the realities of home schooling and trying to work at the same time, the constant trips to the fridge as food became an event, the mass ordering of ‘things’ online to make us feel better, and the obsession with both toilet roll and fence paint, obsessions that just summed up the whole surreal atmosphere of 2020. At the end of each chapter Irene lists things that she was grateful for (there is always something) and also tips to cope with any of the issues the chapter as discussed. This is all done in a non preachy way, and there are genuinely useful things in the tips.

But as funny as the book is, and it is, especially some of the parents stories which come across as confessions at times, there are also more serious issues confronted, including the loss of a child, and alcoholism. These are sensitively handled, and, in the case of Emma’s story, actually brought me to tears.  Irene is also very honest about sending her children back to school (as a key worker her children were entitled to a place, but she initially kept them home.) Irene stresses that admitting you need help, that not trying to be a superwoman, and basically being able to say something isn’t working are all very important to our sanity, a strong message as we look to the mental health issues that 2021, and yet another lockdown, has brought to the fore.

Funny, self deprecating, and yes, helpful, ‘Look for the effin rainbows’ is a book to first pour over, and then dip into whenever you need a helping hand and a friendly voice.

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