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Not Working by Lisa Owens
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Not Working

by Lisa Owens

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This book was okay.

I think it lacked purpose. I liked some parts in it but other parts were repetitive and obvious! I mean, you leave your job for no reason and you expect your life to be great doing nothing?!

That ain't gonna happen no matter what! ( )
  books.paper.mania | Sep 22, 2017 |
A special thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, so maybe it is because I'm a Gen-Xer, or maybe it is because this book was pitched as being in the same vein as Bridget Jones's Diary and I Don't Know How She Does It, but I found it incredibly manic and I didn't enjoy it.

Our narrator, Claire Flannery, is in her late 20s and lives with her boyfriend in London. She quits her job in the hopes that she will discover what she wants to do with/in her life. There really wasn't much of a story here, and the small choppy sub-titled sections didn't do the narrative any favours - this staccato rhythm was distracting and didn't help me engage with the characters. Claire comes off as selfish, shallow, and spoiled. She is unlikable, and to be frank, rather dull. There were some funny bits, but all-in-all, there was really nothing there character-wise and plot-wise. ( )
  GirlWellRead | Feb 25, 2017 |
Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At first I was skeptical about this title - I could not really get a sense of or connect with Claire. While it was expected she would be a flawed character, (Because if she wasn't, what would be the point of this book?) and she would have her conflicts and resolutions, it seemed to be slow going. But as the book progressed and shaped, Owens uncanny ability to explain even the mundanity of our lives (Clair flopping face first into the bed while she talked with Luke was near perfect example! How could the description of something we do almost every day feel on point -- it's perhaps we don't think about how our everyday things can have some sparkle or playfulness to them when we look at them from afar) with such clarity, I felt as if I was Claire and this was my life.

In a way, it was.

I picked up this book because the premise of Claire quitting her job to find herself, or find a position she loved, was exactly where I was at in my life at the time of this reading. As the writing and development of the book became stronger, Claire's actions / thoughts / feelings were mirroring my own about the lives we choose. Coupled with how the book was shaped, as vignettes, and the situations Claire found herself in, the slow going and the jumpy first bits seemed worth getting through to get to the height of the book.

I also enjoyed that her relationship with Luke was not the centerpoint of the novel and she wasn't keen on getting married let alone having kids. I also liked that when Luke kept bringing up how he wanted to eventually get married ("we're engaged to be engaged"), Claire doesn't seem in any hurry to make that happen. She liked her life just fine except for that pesky finding a job she loved bit.

One thing I do have to nitpick is many reviewers preference their review that this is a story about a mid-late 20s character. I don't think this is necessarily true -- Claire and Luke meet after university and have been together for nearly a decade. Claire also makes mention that she's been either in jobs or schooling for nearly 20 years of her adult life. If we make the reasonable assumption she started working at 16, this would put her at 36. Considering the pressure she gets from her parents and some of her friends about settling down and having kids, this makes her age in her mid-early to mid-late 30s (32 - 36). Also, Claire makes a lot of commentary about not being able to fit in with the younger crowd as she's now the older lady in the group when she goes out for drinks with the interns and new staffers at her temp job.

In the end, highly recommended to readers who like women's fiction, strong women characters, and unconventional storytelling. ( )
  byshieldmaiden | Jan 17, 2017 |
"The style was also unusual for the genre-short and sweet anecdotes ranging in topics and never too long before we jump to anything else. If I were reading this for character development or whatever, this style wouldn't have been good but I found it perfect for my attention span and the character. "
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2016/10/not-working-lisa-owens.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Oct 16, 2016 |
It's always great when you get a surprise in the mail. It's even better if it's a book. This is a book I had my eye on and listed under my To-Read folder on my Goodreads account. Just a few weeks back the Read it Forward site had a little contest challenging you to find the emojis on their website. Piece of cake for em to find them as I read 98% of the articles on Read it Forward, so they seemed to jump out at me. In return for my critical visual skills they sent me this cool book. Thank you to Read it Forward!

Claire Flannery is recently unemployed. It’s by choice as she frequently points out in conversations, so people don’t think she was fired or made redundant. She wants to find The Job, the one that will define her, the one that will make a difference in her life. Being out of work leaves her at loose ends and instead of actively searching for employment she is far too introspective. Claire lives with her boyfriend, Luke, who has a promising medical career. He is very supportive of Claire taking time off work, giving her the time to “find herself”.

The book is broken down as a diary, a bit reminiscent of Bridget Jones’ Diary actually, with a stream of consciousness rambling. Each insight of Claire’s thought process has a category. For instance:

Availability

A few rings and in comes the smug automaton: “Sorry but the person you’ve tried to call is not available.”

“The person” is my mother and she’s screening my calls.

The story line here is – she has alienated her mother by saying something inappropriate at her grandfather’s funeral. It's ongoing through the book.

Then there are parts which may qualify as a chapter, even though they are only a page and half long but they are categorized. She is finally out of her sleep pants before 5 P.M. and made an effort with preparing a meal.

“So, what have you been up to today?” Luke asks through a mouthful of Slow-cooked Pulled Pork and Super Zingy Slaw, breaking off a chunk of the Best Jalapeno Cornbread to mop up what’s left of the sauce from the Mac n’ Cheese With All the Bells n’ Whistles.

Months go by and she hasn’t applied herself to looking for work. There is always something going on that distracts her. Claire’s good friend Rachel ask her to meet up at a pub, there is something important she wants to tell Claire. “ You’re always talking about finding the right thing. But who’s to say there aren’t five or twenty-five jobs you could love if you were just a bit more open-minded? Doesn’t it seem equally unlikely that there’s only one thing that’s right for you and all the rest of us have found ours?”

Everyone encourages Claire. It seems she has good friends and lovely boyfriend but she pushes them away at times by being over sensitive and worse, not holding her tongue when she drinks too much. And does she ever drink too much! Wine and more wine are not a good combination when one needs to be tactful or discreet.

This isn't a format I love when reading a book but I did find it humorous and finished the book.

LISA OWENS was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and spent six years working in publishing. In 2013, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She lives in London with her husband and daughter. ( )
  SquirrelHead | Jul 5, 2016 |
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"In the tradition of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It comes a wise and laugh-out-loud debut novel that captures a young generation trying not to have it all, but to figure out what it all means. Claire has just resigned from her job without a plan for her next move. As she struggles to explain herself to friends and family, she experiences the emotions and minutiae of day-to-day life as only someone without the distractions of a regular routine can--and discovers what happens when she seeks true purpose in life"-- "First there was Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones; then Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It; and now Lisa Owen's Not Working to capture the point of view of of a young generation trying not to have it all, but to figure out what it all means. Claire has just resigned from her job without a plan - she is pleased and anxious, but her family and friends don't seem to understand. Before too long she pushes away her safe, steady, brain surgeon boyfriend, and her mother stops talking to her. Claire navigates, observes, and comments on the emotions and minutiae of day to day life as only someone without the distractions of a regular routine can. This is a story of self discovery, packed with wry humor and told in sparkling vignettes"--… (more)

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