Arts & Leisure

Book review: Mona at Sea — by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

(Santa Fe Writer’s Project)

Mona — also known as Sad Millennial, infamous star of a viral video captured as her much-deserved job vanished before her eyes in the economic crash of 2008 — knows how to work hard, strives for perfection in everything she does, and she will, by the power vested in her by her, succeed. However, her current mantra is: I’m unemployed, I’ve never had a boyfriend, I live with my parents in the most boring town on the planet, and I hate myself. She desperately needs to find a job and get out of her parents’ basement. She often wakes up dreadfully hungover, after clawing her way to sleep with fast-food and liquor, and other self-destructive coping mechanisms, to dull the sharp edges of her currently-painful existence. She embarks on a series of wretched job search and “networking” events where she inevitably roots out and verbally attacks the predators who attend only to lure the vulnerables with their pyramid schemes. And dear Mona may be her own worst enemy, I found myself chuckling under my breath when she exploded with rage during a potentially-decent-job interview. Witty and wise, “Mona at Sea” really is a story for our time, too, and I was just completely swept up by its verve and originality. (Meet the author *virtually* Tuesday, Aug. 3, 7 p.m.) For more info visit

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


10 Hand-Picked Books That Will Take You Where You Want To Go

The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson

Once There Were Wolves, by Charlotte McConaghy

Circe, Miller, by Madeline

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Smith, Betty

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger

Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

Why Fish Don’t Exist, by Lulu Miller

Fox and I, by Catherine Raven

The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths

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