We all know that people can do stupid things when they are drunk. No one knows that better than Jess, the protagonist of the new Kate Michaels novel, “The Morning After Memoirs.”
After a drunken hookup on New Year’s Eve, 29-year-old Englishwoman Jess loses her boyfriend of four years, along with her self-respect. “Morning After Memoirs” is the story of how she attempts to piece her life back together and get back out there.
In contrast to the rest of the book, the beginning of this book is actually very compelling, which can be a bit underwhelming. Jess wakes up in a strangers’ bed, with only vague memories of what brought her there and why she would cheat on her boyfriend. Flash forward a few weeks later and she’s struggling to keep it together.
“Memoirs” tells a genuinely interesting and unique story, but like “The Circle,” which I reviewed earlier this month, is let down by the protagonist. Jess starts out sympathetic, if not exactly likeable. Who hasn’t done something stupid after a few drinks?
However shortly after, Jess’ personality starts to grate on the reader. While her behavior is initially excusable as she tries not to succumb to depression, it’s justifiable after the first chapter. Jess becomes judgmental, arrogant, self-conscious and mainly just tiring.
I suspect, though, that Michaels is aware that her protagonist is no Charles Foster Kane or Jay Gatsby. That is why Jess surrounds herself with characters more interesting than her, including a stripper-turned hedge fund manager and a man seeking love in Hong Kong. Even with interesting characters, one cannot help but feel that that Jess is sucking all of the fun parts out of the characters like a vacuum.
The writing itself isn’t bad, so if the reader goes in knowing that this story will not leave him or her feeling good about himself or herself or the world, then this could be a good story. In fact, I would recommend this book, as well as the group “My Chemical Romance,” to those going through a breakup.
“Memoirs” advertises itself as “delightfully fresh and funny,” but this is not a story that made me laugh. This is not some literary version of “Sex and the City,” and actually feels a bit more like “Magic Mike,” in that the story is very different and a lot sadder, than advertised.
I really do admire Michaels for writing a story about a person with whom someone had just broken up. Although I’ve never been in Jess’ shoes, a person in this situation would certainly not be bouncing back quickly. Jess is in a dark place for almost this entire book.
But while a journey through the mind of a person at their lowest point could be interesting, Jess just isn’t interesting enough for me to recommend this book to everyone. A select few, I think, will stand by this book. For me, however, it’s just not worth it to read such a downer for so little return.
Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.