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Problems by Jade Sharma
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Problems (2016)

by Jade Sharma

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Okay, so I really loved this. It felt very honest, funny, and bone-achingly true. It's not for everyone; if you can't read about drug addiction, skip it. If you like your novels to have a discernible structure, this is not for you. The entirety of this novel is stream of consciousness. Characters get introduced and completely forgotten. The reader gets taken on Maya's journey; although from the outside it may seem like you don't share any qualities with a heroin-addicted bulimic-anorexic woman in her early thirties, you will be surprised. I was. I saw a lot of myself in her. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
"Give me new problems. I'm tired of the same old problems.
Why can't someone interest me in my own life?"

This book is like Notes from Underground meets Trainspotting meets The Bell Jar, but with a brown woman. It's short but it's not easy; it got under my skin. An itch that won't go away. Or as The Rumpus describes it, it's "like a blister". I relate to Maya in terms of sensibility, but she's dealing with some harrowing issues like heroin addiction, an eating disorder, and the end of a marriage. She's an everywoman underground woman, if that makes sense. Even when I was laughing out loud I had a lump in my throat. There's no psychologising here about why Maya is the way she is. Instead, there is a suggestion that the promise of a life for many people, in this day and age, is just a combination of "dread and sadness and emptiness", but that it's never futile to try and make something else out of it.

"Life isn't short. Life is long. That's why you have to do something." ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
Problems? I'll say. A junkie who trolls Craigslist for rich men to pimp herself out to because she doesn't seem to have the will or energy to do anything else is neither an appealing character nor a reliable narrator. At least it's not the stereotypical painful childhood molestation/neglect/sibling jealousy/abandonment trauma that sets her on the path to the depths (and no lack of compassion intended to those who have been through that misery- it just seems too familiar a fictional trope lately), but rather ennui, and a desire to reach depths of uselessness. Her half East Asian self is determined to underachieve, and it isn't much fun going with her.

There is some cleverness here, just not worthy of an entire novel:

"Behind every crazy woman is a man sitting very quietly, saying, "What? I'm not doing anything." ( )
  froxgirl | Oct 16, 2016 |
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"Dark, raw, and very funny, [this book] introduces us to Maya, a young woman with a smart mouth, time to kill, and a heroin hobby that isn't much fun anymore. Maya's been able to get by in New York on her wits and a dead-end bookstore job for years, but when her husband leaves her and her favorite professor ends their affair, her barely-calibrated life descends into chaos, and she has to make some choices. Maya's struggle to be alone, to be a woman, and to be thoughtful and imperfect and alive in a world that doesn't really care what happens to her is rendered with dead-eyed clarity and unnerving charm. This book takes every tired trope about addiction and recovery, "likeable" characters, and redemption narratives, and blows them to pieces"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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