Shortlisted for the 2015 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, No Way! Okay, Fine is the first book from writer, editor and occasional DJ Brodie Lancaster. A series of personal essays, Lancaster tackles just about everything, from growing up in a small town and a year spent in New York City, to early brushes with feminism and far too much time spent trying to be the “right kind” of fat, all presented with a hearty dose of related pop culture, movies, and music.
When it comes to reviewing a book, you hope to remain at least a little impartial, to focus on technique and craft as much as content and personal appreciation. But when it came time for me to sit down and write a review of No Way! Okay, Fine, the usual plan went right out the window.
I honestly couldn’t separate myself from this book. Reading it was like reading about myself, if you switched out Brodie for Jodie and Bundaberg, New York, and Melbourne for Preston, Edinburgh, and Brisbane. From the sense of superiority that came from watching (and kind of missing the point of) The Breakfast Club as a teenager, to the politics inherent in occupying a body that society deems unacceptable and unloveable, to tackling the dreaded Imposter Syndrome, almost every moment of Lancaster’s personal commentary resonated with me in one way or another. Intensely relatable and packed with pop culture references, No Way! Okay, Fine left me feeling validated, angry, inspired, and unstoppable. But most importantly it made me feel a little less alone and, to make a pop culture reference of my own, I’d kill for a time travelling DeLorean so I could go back about ten years and shove this book into the hands of a teenage me.
It’s probably worth noting that I went into this book as, like Lancaster, a cisgender white woman in her mid twenties – you know, someone who looks like an adult but still looks for an adult in most situations – but there’s a universality to much of what Lancaster has to say. At the heart of these personal stories and impassioned explorations of the importance of Kanye West and One Direction lie several key messages and pieces of advice, little fist pumps of motivation we could all use from time to time. Define yourself on your own terms. Refuse to be silenced. Believe in your own greatness. Like whatever the hell you want to like – One Direction included!
For fans of pop music, intersectional feminism, and that bit in Ghostbusters when Kate McKinnon whales on a bunch of ghosts (which should be everyone, really), No Way! Okay, Fine reads like a conversation with that friend that just gets it. Brodie Lancaster has provided readers with a funny and engaging collection of essays that remind us that even though there are battles to be fought, there’s nothing wrong with binge watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Hey, whatever gets you through the night, right?