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Not Working    by Lisa Owens order for
Not Working
by Lisa Owens
Order:  USA  Can
Dial, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Claire quit her job, so now she is Not Working. She didn't exactly dislike the job. The problem was more a matter of not feeling fulfilled, wondering at the age of twenty-eight whether she wanted to work just for a good salary at something relatively unimportant in a world full of problems. Could there instead be a place for her somewhere doing something that she could be proud of in the way that her boyfriend, Luke, will be proud of being a brain surgeon once he is qualified? That was the rub for her. What exactly did she want out of life?

Early on in this novel, Claire makes what she thinks is a lighthearted remark about her grandfather at his funeral. This complicates her search for meaning in her life. Her mother is so angry with Claire over what she said, and at her own father's funeral, of all things. She won't have anything to do with Claire and doesn't even answer her phone calls. Claire is an only child and has been close to her parents. Although her father keeps in touch, he tells her that her mom is just not ready to even talk about what happened. He does mention her unemployed situation, though, as do her grandmother, Luke, and other friends and relatives, trying to get her to tell them just exactly what she is looking for in a job.

Claire's story is told in a funny, episodic way with headings for each little section, such as Grandma, Office life, Name-calling, and My next move. We are propelled forward along with Claire as she worries about money and what people think about her; her relationship with her mother; or her tendency to drink too much and then say things that she shouldn't. Her internal crisis that led her to quit her job doesn't lift once she has more time to think about it, and by the time she reconciles with her mother, she's a mess.

Many people go through this disconnect between what they thought life would offer them in the actual working world, but Claire is such an endearing bumbler. We can laugh and sympathize with her without being too worried that she will somehow emerge from her present situation and be stronger and more satisfied with whatever she decides to do.

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