I sometimes have to giggle at what I read in my downtime. Listen, I'm absolutely NOT a book snob, but I do think it's funny what I choose to read! The past several weeks I've gone from teaching Shakespeare's Hamlet, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, and George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man, to whatever escape read I could get my hands on once I left the building. Although I love my gripping Booker Prize Winners, native literatures, and classics, I really have to get away from it when I go home. In this case, Siri L. Mitchell's novel The Cubicle Next Door served as a great escape for me! She even got me to walk an 1 1/2 hours on a treadmill, just so I could finish the book!
Synopsis: Jackie Harrison is a computer administrator at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. One day she is informed that her office will be split, and she must set it up in cubicle fashion. Not only is Jackie upset about sharing her space, but in her "save-the-environment," "eat healthy," and "spend little" sort of fashion, just can't stand having someone opposite working so closely beside her. Introduce Lt. Col. Joseph Gallagher, retired air force pilot. Joseph is retired, but definitely not old. Joe has simply been grounded due to migraines that have forced him out of the sky. With his new desk job, he becomes a teacher on campus, and roosts next to Jackie.
Where Jackie is uptight, Joe is laid back. Where Jackie pushes people away, Joe is open to everyone. Where Jackie has determined never to fall in love...EVER, Joe has already been married, and open to loving again. To vent her antisocial, cubicle-hating feelings, Jackie starts a blog to write about her feelings. However, venting soon turns to considering what Joe is making her feel about herself, and about him.
Review: First off, let me say how totally and completely aggravated I was with Jackie's uptight personality. Listen, I eat organic, recycle, and try to conserve, but her neurotic behavior and piety about her choices made me crazy at times. At first, because of her actions, I couldn't understand why her cubicle mate Joe would even want to be her friend. It seemed bizarre to me that Joe would continue to ask her to lunch, to run errands, etc., but he did! However, I have to give Mitchell credit in that, over time, we continue to learn more about the insecurities riddling Jackie (her mother abandoned her at birth, and her father died before she was born, in Vietnam). Through a series of blog posts, examining her confusion over what she wants for her life, I began to feel sorry for her. I did think the popularity of the blog, so much so that it was featured repeatedly on TV, was a bit far-fetched. As the writer of this blog, I doubt that if I whined about my job and my love life, that this alone would draw readers by the thousands, right? So, I could be wrong, but that's just a guess. Therefore, that part reminded me that it was all fiction.
Overall, I do think that with development the ridiculous moments blend away. I became so caught up in wanting to see how saintly-man Joe would handle this pain-ridden woman, that I really got sucked into the story. It is a clean story, with no sex scenes to jar your reading, and the intimacy is really of the strong relationship kind--deeply emotional at times. The storyline is playful, emotional, and gut-wrenching, all at the same time, and on a scale of escape reads, I would say it's pretty good. Yes, I rolled my eyes and growled a few times, but on the whole, it was a nice book to get me away from all the dead white guys I've been reading at school!
For more information on the novel, see: The Cubicle Next Door.
*Review based off of a library copy of the book.