Claire is in her late 20s, she’s quit her “creative communications” (i.e. marketing) job in search of fulfilment. Her boyfriend, the supportive but frustrated Luke, is a brain surgeon. Can you imagine feeling unfulfilled and living with someone as important and single-minded as a brain surgeon?!
As a millennial, I identify with Claire. I may be a wee bit older than her but I understand this early adulthood crisis well.
Through a series of vignettes and thoughts, Lisa Owens manages to touch on scenarios that every woman my age will identify with. When Claire isn’t falling out with Luke over sexy colleagues or marriage and/or babies, she’s lying to her gym instructor about how much alcohol she consumes. Claire, in my opinion, is every woman. OK, so she’s not the ones who’ve got their life together – or seem to, at least – but she is every woman I know in one way or another. So you may be married but perhaps your mum isn’t speaking to you. Maybe you’ve got a great job but your friends think you drink too much. Claire is a composite of all our neuroses in one. And as much as there are scenes in this book where I despair for Claire, I love her. I care about her. I see myself in her.
Don’t get me wrong, this review probably makes Not Working sound rather depressing. The scenarios can be sad, particularly if you identify with them, but Owens manages to make them bittersweet. There’s a lot of humour in this book and much of it comes in the form of recognition. How many of us have gone to hand our notice in at the gym and walked out with an appointment for a personal trainer?