Not Working

81qvrpa7tvlAuthor: Lisa Owens
Genre: Fiction
Claire Flannery has just quit her office job, hoping to take some time to discover her real passion. The problem is, she’s not exactly sure how to go about finding it. Without the distractions of a regular routine, Claire confronts the best and worst parts of herself: the generous, attentive part that visits her grandmother for tea and cooks special meals for her boyfriend, Luke, and the part that she feels will never measure up and makes regrettable comments after too many glasses of wine. What emerges is a candid, moving portrait of a clear-eyed heroine trying to forge her own way, a wholly relatable character whose imperfections and uncanny observations highlight what makes us all different and yet inescapably linked.

I picked this book up on a whim. It had nothing to do with the ONTD reading challenge, it just happened to be on the same shelf as another book I chose. I’m at a point in my life where things are changing in monumental ways. I’m graduating college, I’m trying to get my first “adult” job and recently I’ve been trying to choose books about life changes in an effort to unpack some of my feelings.

Not Working had a premise that looked interesting and I was eager to read it. However, at the end, I felt unfulfilled by the story, characters, and ending.

I was disappointed in the format of the book. It was linear but jumped around often. I also wasn’t a fan of the protagonist, Claire. The thing that frustrated me the most about her was that I was on everyone’s side but hers for most of the book. From what I read, Claire was a woman who drank too much, talked too much, and ran on emotion rather than logic. All of the big stressful subplot in the book were brought on by Claire herself so I couldn’t find any sympathy for her at all.

Claire was also an “all or nothing” type of person throughout the book. She couldn’t really grasp the concept of things can be “so-so” or “alright” and not be the end of the world. And not everything would be bursting with passion and fun, either. That was her problem in general with her whole finding herself thing. She had this vision that when she found her purpose her life would have meaning once and for all. She couldn’t accept that barely anyone finds their purpose. So she drank, caused problems, and was generally a stress-crazed asshole.

I did enjoy how the book made the wheels in my head turn. As a kid, getting a job in something you loved and were passionate about was the dream. However, as you grow up, you realize that most people aren’t working jobs they love. They’re not even working jobs they like. They work to survive and try to find happiness elsewhere. It’s not sad, it’s realistic. The one question that kept popping up as I read was, is it worse to want to find your purpose and not know what it is, or to know your passions and then find no work in it.

What I found strange about this book was that it was marketed as a comedic fiction novel. I didn’t find the situations Claire found herself in, or Claire herself to be funny. The book read as sad to me.

Not Working was an okay book. I’d recommend it to my friend’s to get a conversation going about our futures, but not because I found it particularly inspiring or polarizing.


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