ARCs AVAILABLE: Lean into It – Betty Balaba



Becca Johnson is a successful marketing manager who has her life stylishly mapped out, until one day her mother is unexpectedly admitted to hospital.

Late nights, stress and a rediscover sweet tooth lead to her once elegant thin frame transforming into a large cushion of comfort eating and the pounds pile on.

Things aren’t all bad though, a dishy surgeon and a new career path push Becca out of her comfort zone and force her to re-evaluate her life choices.

Becca’s life as she knows it is about to come to a screeching halt…



That day, I started working on yet another new marketing strategy. I worked thought lunch, printing the new document at 3 p.m. It was then that my mobile rang. I rushed back to the desk for it.

“Hi, is this Becca Johnson?”


“It’s the hospital.”

I stopped breathing. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, nothing to worry about, but your mother is going to have a blood transfusion later and you wanted us to let you know.”

“Thank you, that’s great, I’ll be there.”

The nurse previously had said that everything should be okay whilst doing a transfusion – but also that some patients had a reaction. It was then that I’d asked her to contact me if they went ahead. If there was a problem, I wanted to be there. I stapled the strategy document and took it straight to Emma’s office. She was behind her computer screen and didn’t acknowledge me at first. I stood feeling stupid for at least five or ten seconds. She heard me open her door and she knew someone had come in. Why didn’t she look up? I would give it one more second and then I’d start talking. If it was a power game, I didn’t have time for it.

“Yes?” she said.

I stepped forward so I was beside her desk rather than in front of it.

“I’ve finished the marketing strategy,” I said handing it over.

“Oh, it’s not due until the end of next week.” I didn’t say anything. She flicked through it. “I’ll read it later.”

I had to plunge right in.

“I also wanted to let you know that I have to leave now because my mother’s having a blood transfusion.”

“Do you really need to be there for that?” I sensed an arched eyebrow that she just reigned in.

“Well,” I said patiently. “There’s a risk her body could refuse it, or have a negative reaction. So it is better that I’m there.” She studied her nails for a moment, and I continued. “I’ve finished my work and if you need me to do anything else I’ll be able to do it when I come in tomorrow.” I could hear the strain and desperation entering my voice.

She stepped around me and closed the door.

“Becca, take a seat,” she said coolly. I really didn’t have time for a protracted conversation but I sat down opposite her desk. She stayed by the door.

“Do you think you are coping?”

I twisted myself around so I could see her.

“With what?” I said.

“Your workload and your mother being ill?”

“Yes,” I said firmly. “I do.” She narrowed her eyes minutely.

“Because I wouldn’t want things to get too much for you.”

I had done all my outstanding work. I always did what I said I was going to do. I didn’t know what else she wanted, so I just kept silent. She moved away from the door finally.

“Good. I’ll let you go,” she said. “I hope all goes well with the, er… transfusion.”

I stood up and walked to the door.

“Thank you,” I said, with an odd mixture of relief and defiance.


About the Author

Betty Balaba worked in marketing before pursuing her dream of becoming a writer.  Lean Into It, her semi-autobiographical first novel, is about Becca Johnson who undergoes major life changes when her mother is suddenly admitted to hospital for an extended period of time.

Betty lives between London and the United States, and is currently working on her second novel.