Unmarry Me is the second novel by Australian author, Nicki Reed, and the sequel to her first novel, Unzipped. On her second wedding anniversary, Ruby Wheeler hits upon the brilliant idea of asking her beloved Mark for a divorce. After all, if her older sister, Peta can’t be married to the woman she loves, then Rube and Mark and other happily married couples shouldn’t be, either. It will be a statement, a message to the High Court, which declared her sister’s marriage of just four days, unconstitutional when it overturned the same-sex marriage law.
But in the execution of the idea, unforeseen complications arise: divorcing for love is not as straightforward or easy as it might seem. Living apart from Mark as she waits to “unmarry” him is lonely and frustrating. And while exciting things like bright T-shirts, stickers, TV appearances, a flash mob and hot air balloons were certainly not on her initial radar, Ruby discovers that standing up for one’s principles can attract opposition, perhaps not unexpected. But the stalking and the encounter with the deceased rodent? Definitely a nasty surprise. Reed tackles a very topical (and highly polarising) issue, marriage equality, or, more accurately, the lack of it, in a witty, funny and original way. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, both in the dialogue and in Ruby’s asides and inner monologue. The unusual family structure also adds humour. Thirty-seven-year-old Ruby is a likeable, if slightly crazy, character, one who develops and matures over the course of her unmarryme campaign. And as well as the laughs, there is also a generous helping of wise words and succinct observations, and a smattering of lump-in-the-throat moments.
The support characters are also appealing, and the interactions between the couples, the sisters, the friends and the work colleagues are all quite entertaining. Present day Melbourne is well conveyed. While this is a sequel, it is not essential to read the first book, although many readers may well wish to seek it out. This novel is clever, funny and even a little thought-provoking. 4.5 stars