Monday, June 22, 2009

The Cubicle Next Door

I thought that for the first actual book I talk about it would be appropriate for me to introduce you to a book about a blog.

The novel The Cubicle Next Door by Siri L. Mitchell is about a Jackie, a computer tech person for the Air Force Academy and Joe, the guy she has to share her office with. Jackie is the anonymous author of the blog The Cubicle Next Door, her space for venting her frustrations with her co-workers (people who eat at their computers, the secretary who tried to hold the book up to the computer screen to get it to scan, etc), and usually Joe. As Jackie and Joe share the office her feelings of frustration face (though they don’t disappear completely) and warmer feelings arise.

However, Jackie’s past keeps her from wanting to act on these feelings. Her parents were never married, and her father was killed before he knew she was on the way. Her devastated mother went to India, leaving her with her grandmother, when she was only hours old. Because of this past she has always pushed away affection from men her whole life, but Joe won’t let her push him away. She finds herself questioning all the things that she thought she believed, and the person that she thought she was.

And when The Cubicle Next Door is featured on the news, and Joe starts to read all the things Jackie has written about him – anonymously, of course – things get even more interesting.

Will Jackie allow her past to keep her from a future with Joe, or will she accept the man who works in The Cubicle Next Door?

This book is written in the first person from Jackie’s perspective and approximately every other chapter is divided by a blog entry from Jackie. The blog entries include comments from blog followers, characters that run through the book, though you never really get to meet any of them. Jackie is an engaging narrator that really pulls you into the story. You feel what she feels as her office is subdivided and as she finds herself growing in ways that she never expected, or really desired. You can really see the other characters as well – Joe, her grandmother, her grandmother’s friends – in a really unique way. You see them colored through her perspective, but at the same time you get an idea of what they are like without Jackie’s colored opinions.

Siri Mitchell has a way of writing that makes you stop and think about what is important and makes you look at issues in a new way. In this book, Jackie and Joe, two Protestant Christians, are in search of a church, and the only church where they feel comfortable is a Catholic Church, so they begin to attend regularly and even become involved in some of the ministries, but do not take part in the communion portion of the service, and they tell the other members that they are not interested in becoming Catholic, only in belonging.

In the novel Kissing Adrien, Siri Mitchell addresses the drinking of alcohol (but not to the level of getting drunk) and being friends with someone who has had an affair. She always addresses these issues in a way that makes you stop and think why it is that you believe what you believe and what you would do when you’re put in situations where things are not as morally black and white as we sometimes like to think.

The Cubicle Next Door is a wonderful book about discovering who you are, even when (or maybe especially when) that person is different from the person you thought you were before.

1 comment:

  1. That is a perfect summation of this book! Which I feel in love with. I think Jackie is the closest to be like me than any other character I've read. Siri Mitchell truly has talent in her ability to say something, you know not just anything but something.