18 August, 2016

Problems by Jade Sharma

The blurb on the back of this book absolutely nails its essence and if it fails to make you delve deeper, this review will not add anything extra to sway you. You will only read this book if you’ve  a penchant for the dark, preferring your humour on the bleak side.

In terms of addiction themed novels, this sits outside of the usual florid descriptions of the great fall and scrambling in the depths of depravity, then, in the interests of tying things up, a short nod to the recovery process a la then-I-saw-the-light style of narrative. 

For a start the narrator is not terribly likable, first world problems and all that. Maya is  kind of narcissistic, selfish and aware of the repetitive nature of choosing the same destructive self soothing behaviours to escape  the stultifying boredom of her life. There is no deep dark trauma from which she seeks escape, but rather a distinct lack of self-identity or sense of confidence to step out and effect change. 

Then there is the fact that this book is kind of depressing. You find yourself thinking, "hmmm, do I really want  to read this?". Ultimately yes you do want to keep on reading because, despite so many poor Hollywood portrayals of the life of an addict, they fail to address  the mind numbing boredom of the same behaviours, running into the same problems and turning to the same destruction mechanisms to escape from life. 

By contrast this book shows Maya’s self awareness and shame as she knowingly avoids doing anything remotely instrumental in moving on. We see the   grubbiness of addiction, the fossicking round in the detritus of life and yet there is a certain  curiosity  about how Maya is going to alter her behaviours and what that process will look like. 

In a way this book is reflective of the social environment of the now, the discrepancies between the fairy tale promise of what life will be like when you’ve reached certain milestones in your young adult life and the crushing disappointment when the actualities of daily life are so far removed from the imagined ideal. 

This is such an accomplished book, really well written with a  gritty integrity. Maybe not your first choice if you’ve an appetite for the light or uplifting.  

Title: Problems
Author: Jade Sharma

Reviewed by: Sue W

Sue W loves her fur babies equally but differently and used to administer time out to think about bad behaviours, however since Patrick the fox arrived, she can no longer lock a miscreant in the spare room least Patrick is set upon.

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