Review: Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? by Emily Clarkson
I wasn’t planning on reviewing Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? when I borrowed it from the library, but I have some thoughts about it that I’ve decided I’d like to get down on paper. It’s left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and I don’t often find that with non-fiction books – normally if they annoy me I just shrug and move on to the next title, pushing the irritating one to the back of my mind, but I’m struggling to do that in this case.
My major problem with this book is that I didn’t realise it was written by Jeremy Clarkson’s daughter until I was already a good few letters in. I probably should have linked the surnames but it’s not exactly uncommon, so I hadn’t even considered it until she mentioned her famous father while writing a letter to the person who catfished her.
Advertised as the book by the founder of Pretty Normal Me, would this have been published if it had been written by your run-of-the-mill lifestyle blogger? I don’t think so.
It feels very disingenuous. Clarkson’s portrayed as a regular, everyday girl, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is further hammered home during letters in which she’s writing about how she wishes we could use the term ‘equalists’ instead of the term ‘feminists’ (with seemingly no understanding of the importance of intersectionality in feminism) and grumbles at how expensive managing her gluten intolerance is (something that someone in a less privileged position may be unable to afford to manage and therefore be forced to suffer with).
That’s not my only issue with this collection of essays, however. A huge amount of them are written about vapid non-issues, and although they’re supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous they miss the mark. I found myself rolling my eyes and scoffing rather than giggling (and with the majority of these letters appearing towards the start of the collection, it spoilt my appetite for the entire book).
There are some important things tackled in this book – specifically in regards to eating disorders and other mental health issues – but as a whole it’s disjointed and lacks direction. Clarkson links some of the subjects together, but seems to oppose her own views at points (particularly when leaping from berating online trolls and catcallers to praising the existence of Page 3 in The Sun).
I’m not sure I’d recommend this one, but I can appreciate the fact that Clarkson is trying her best to bring about change. Her suggestions regarding alterations in schooling and fashion sizing are intelligent, but overall her attempt to be a normal girl next door doesn’t translate.
If you’re interested in learning more about Can I Speak To Someone In Charge?, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!