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Posted December 11, 2010
Not The Grapes of Wrath
Jobless Recovery by LC Evans is not The Grapes of Wrath, but it's darn close. Evans has crafted a near perfect contemporary look at the socio-economic world we now exist in. Looking back on the John Steinbeck classic set during the Great Depression, that novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their home by changes in financial and agricultural industries. Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this (the Great Depression and its effects.)" Evans has accomplished this in Jobless Recovery. The book is not preachy, the characters are easy to relate to, and the prose is accessible.
Dave Griffin is a likeable young computer programmer for Markham-Hooks, a large financial company. In one day, his world is turned inside-out as the company outsources almost all of their employee jobs to India. Dave loses his home, girl friend, and most of what he holds dear.
Simultaneously, his friend Joe Tremaine, a former FBI agent injured on the job, is faced with the loss of his job and medical insurance. He is disowned by his doctor, put on experimental drugs for his injury induced psychosis, and endures inhumane treatment at a clinic for the uninsured.
Joe confronts his Senator (whose life Joe saved years earlier) to beg for even a desk job in order to keep his medical insurance --the scene is guaranteed to fire your engines as Evans is an artist at describing human behavior.
"Senator Drake had looked Joe up and down with his piggish eyes, calculating, maybe deciding how best to give him the bad news. Then he reared back in his seat and rested his hands over his popped-out stomach, forefingers steepled and aimed at Joe's heart. 'I appreciate you saving my life, but sometimes, and it's sad, but sometimes, we have to put a sick horse out to pasture.'"
The characters struggle, much like Steinbeck's, to carve out new lives, forced to comprise themselves. This is an extremely satisfying read. It opens doors that are at half-tilt and layers tension on tension, but with a sense of humor. What does Joe have in the back of his pickup truck? And will Dave's final wish come true? "Yeah, one day the country, and maybe the world, would return to government of the people, by the people instead of government by the greedy."
I can't recommend this book enough. It truly is a Must Read.
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Posted January 29, 2012
"Jobless Recovery" reminded me of M.P. McDonald’s book "No Good Deed" (the first of her Mark Taylor series). This comparison isn’t because these books are the same or the authors writing style are similar (neither is true), but that both stories are thrillers with a strong political message buried in the story. Each puts the reader in a position that they hope to never experience and by doing so forces them to consider the issues from a different point of view.
Beyond that, any comparison falls apart. The position the characters in "Jobless Recovery" find they are in is much more likely. Chances are you know someone who has suddenly found themselves unable to work like Joe Tremaine or someone who worked for a company that outsourced their job to an offshore company, like Dave Griffin. Maybe it has happened to you.
"Jobless Recovery" is a entertaining, fast-paced thriller. Read it for the entertainment value, but when you’re done reading think about the picture it paints and what is wrong with this picture. Then do what you can to change it.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Posted June 19, 2011
Posted March 21, 2011
Jobless Recovery was an interesting read. Evans' deft hand weaves the lives of her characters together, and twists the plot in ways that renders it entirely unpredictable. Which leaves me in a conundrum. Evans' plotlines do not spiral up toward a cinematic peak of heroism or cowardice where plans come together with a bang or fall apart with a thud. Rather, they happen much in the way of real life - the thread gets lost, people do other things, stuff is unplanned in a messy, natural sort of way. In this sense, the book walks life's shades of gray quite well. But this contrasts with the characters, who seem to belong to one group, all good (the main characters); or the other, all bad (politicians, doctors, higher level corporate workers).
Plot: Recently laid off computer programmer Dave, fired-for-being-disabled ex-government agent Joe, and Joe's daughter Lark are all battling with the current economic climate. Joe suffers from a brain injury and has come up with some pretty interesting plans to get his financial situation back online.
Setting: Avalon, a city in North Carolina. Beautifully conceptualized; I feel that I can picture it in its manicured beauty. I can also picture its outskirts quite well.
Characters: Dave was immensely likable, and when Evans switches into different characters' heads, the transition is smooth and it feels very real. I loved especially getting the characters' impressions of each other, because it helped to give me a more rounded view of them. I would have liked to see characters be a bit more gray - particularly in terms of characters in power. I would have enjoyed a character who would throw off the book's set expectations a bit.
Style: This was the best edited independent book I've read so far. Absolutely typo-free. Smooth reading, nothing jarring.
Overall Impression: Four stars. An interesting read for anyone dealing with the current economic climate, which, I suppose, means pretty much everyone. Perhaps it ties up a bit too well, and the characters are a bit too much made out of their qualities, vs. their qualities coming together to create them. But Evans' passion comes through clearly in the writing. She means it. And at the end of the day that counts for a whole heck of a lot.
Posted March 17, 2011
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