Dry Hard – Nick Spalding

13 January 2019
Dry Hard Book Cover Dry Hard
Nick Spalding
Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of Fat Chance and Checking Out comes a hilarious story about giving up... but definitely not giving in. Kate and Scott's marriage has always been a lot of fun, with alcohol at the heart of it. After all, what's more entertaining than a good laugh and a large drink... or six? But recently, those relaxing drinks have become more crutch than comfort--and the couple have almost forgotten how to talk to each other sober. Then their teenage daughter Holly uploads a video of their humiliating drunken escapades, which gets picked up by YouTube superstar PinkyPud--and goes horrifyingly viral. In a last-ditch attempt to prove to the world they're more than just boozy idiots, Kate and Scott quit alcohol completely. But with Holly's... er... 'help', what begins as a family promise soon escalates into a social media phenomenon: #DryHard! With the eyes of the Internet upon them, can Kate and Scott stay teetotal--and save their marriage in the process?


I genuinely have moments in Nick Spalding’s books where I laugh out loud. I have since his first books, learned NOT to read them in public as it avoids embarrassing spontaneous outbursts of laughter, snorting when trying to control the outbursts, and dribbling tears and saliva out my eyes and mouth.

As we have come to expect with Nick Spalding he cleverly mixes the difficult situations in life with such slap-stick comedic scenes, that it is not understated to say the reader’s experience will be an absorbing rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Dry Hard involves the Temple family; husband Scott, wife Kate and 17-year-old daughter Holly. Scott works for a Gin brewery with easy access to alcohol, and Kate works for a PR agency that often means nights out and dinner with clients. Both Scott and Kate have always enjoyed alcohol and they seem to live jovial, pleasant and relaxed lives. Holly has watched their constant displays of drunken antics that are often lewd, foolish and offensive, hidden to them, behind a forgetful boozy mist of altered reality. 

Life is full of choices and decisions, some feel small and incidental, while others feel so monumental that we fear to make them. Each decision, however, has an impact, not only on our own lives but on those around us and acutely on our families. Scott and Kate are confronted by a video of their drunken antics at Christmas, captured by Holly and accompanied by a threat to post on YouTube unless they stop. Unwilling to do so, or to believe Holly would actually follow through, they suddenly find themselves the focus of a video that has gone viral with the hashtag #DryHard.

Scott and Kate are initially humiliated and ashamed of their behaviour but eventually come to a decision that the video should be kept online as a huge motivation to stop drinking. The constant reminder being all too persistent and the horrible realisation of how drinking was affecting their daughter are the main incentives to commit to a year without alcohol. Holly also commits to this endeavour providing a regular online update to a growing number of subscribers that put her in a unique category of bloggers that can generate financial rewards. This brings the attention of others that have made millions with their own YouTube channels and are always looking to capture new opportunities.

These multiple threads are well woven into a good fast-paced story which is an easy read. The storyline proceeds as expected – the moments of lapse and its repercussions, the greedy online social media stars wanting to manipulate a young naïve girl and the expected relationship issues now their view of the world has been reset.

I didn’t feel this was as good as previous novels from Nick Spalding. It felt convenient at times and obvious in the plotting. I lost interest in Scott and Kate’s endeavour at various moments and Holly’s actions with regards her parents were a little off for my appreciation. 

I would rate the book 3.5 stars but with Nick’s comedic scenes and his conclusion to the story laying out our challenges in making decisions, and how we can appreciate life and accept its failings are important messages, so I would happily round up to 4 stars.

Many thanks to Amazon Publishing and NetGalley, for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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