Hello and welcome to the November edition of the BBRBF Book Club! This month we’re reviewing “Not Working” by Lisa Owens.
Through my time in the BBRBF Book Club, I’ve come to realize that plot descriptions never do books justice. I’ve been completely led astray by snippets of storylines that are designed to give you a sense of what the book is about. Basically, I was not thrilled about this choice after reading its summary. I formed the opinion that this was just another “coming of age” drama, and parts of it do fit that category, but as I continued reading I found a deep seeded connection to the main character, Claire.
Claire is in her mid to late-twenties and has just quit her job in order to do some soul-searching. She’s determined to find a career that she deems meaningful and is afraid of jumping into the next opportunity thrown her way in fear of getting stuck there. Her long-term boyfriend, Luke, on the other hand is practicing to become a neurosurgeon.
Along her journey, constant snide remarks are thrown her way over her status of being unemployed, despite the fact that it was her choice. She’s a bit of an alcoholic, oversensitive, and self-loathing. I took those characteristics as defensive behavior from someone who is anxious and truly unhappy.
I connected with Claire on so many levels. The first being that I went, and currently am going, through a similar phase in my life (minus the alcoholism). My pursuit of science came not only from my passion for the subject, but my deep dissatisfaction with my status in life at the age of 25. I couldn’t help but relate to Claire’s sentiment of “I didn’t work hard at school and go to university so I could spend my life sending emails.” Although I wasn’t even doing that. I was working retail. I felt I wasn’t doing anything of meaning. I felt that I didn’t have a path like so many others around me. So, like Claire, I made a change.
Secondly, it was as if Claire and I shared a common mindset: self-loathing, insecurities, fear of the worse whenever she received a voicemail from family members, constant conflict when any sort of criticism was thrown her way, feelings of helplessness- that the universe had nothing but bad luck in store for her. She almost always, and in a roundabout way, referred to herself as being a bad person, saying things like “Not proud of the fact that when crossing the road, I use fellow humans as a buffer from the oncoming traffic, but there it is: that’s just the sort of person I am.” Although I’ve never consciously done that, I wouldn’t doubt that my subconscious has.
I fell in love with this book. I connected to almost every struggle that Claire went through. It brought to light that I’m not alone in my struggle to find the career for me, but that maybe there isn’t always a right path. Towards the end of the book, Claire and her father have a heart-to-heart in which she learns that her father never ended up finding his preferred path. He suggests that maybe “there’s a whole world between any old thing and the thing.”
For my outfit, I chose more of a house-wife outfit to represent Claire’s lackadaisical attire while out of work (and her constant cleaning of their apartment later in the story). I tried to make my jacket look like a robe, but I’m not entirely sure how well that came across. I paired my Pink Peasant Top from Pinup Girl Clothing with my Field Notable Midi Skirt from Modcloth. The hair scarf is vintage from a local shop called Streamline Antiques.
I hope you enjoyed my review, and don’t forget to check out all of the other gals’ opinions: Sara from In a Nutshell & Kathrine from The Miss Information Blog! Noelle from The Classy Junk and Kristina from The Eyre Effect had this month off, but will return for next month’s review of “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell.