Meet Nora Hughes—the overworked, underpaid, last bookish assistant standing. At least for now.
When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.
With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet...and maybe poach some Parsons' authors along the way.
But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or...herself and her future.
Must Love Books is a thought-provoking, well-written debut novel that, even though it made me uncomfortable in places, kept me turning pages. Sometimes, being uncomfortable is a good thing. Readers should be aware that this is not a classic romance though there are romantic elements and the potential for a HEA. I would classify it as contemporary fiction or even women's fiction as it centers on the life, struggles, and evolution of Nora, a twenty-something woman of color, unfulfilled, and underappreciated, searching for her path in life while stuck in what she thought was her dream job.
Nora is similar to some of the young women in my life who have graduated from college, landed dream jobs, then discovered those jobs weren't all they had hoped. In addition to the downward spiral of her career dreams, Nora also struggles with her identity in a predominantly white working world, her self-worth, her ability to financially support herself, and her mental health. These lead her into some dark mental places and questionable decisions. While some of those decisions made me uneasy, and I could see the repercussions coming, I understood why she made them and appreciated the fact that she struggled with the morality of those decisions, both before and after.
I found Nora to be very realistic in light of her circumstances and also a relatable as well as a sympathetic character. I applaud the author's open, honest look at mental health and the self-sabotaging actions that can follow in the path of anxiety, depression, and low self-worth. I also appreciated that she didn't give Nora any easy answers. Instead, we see a realistic portrayal of someone suffering the consequences of their actions, learning from them, and arriving at the point where they are ready to put in the hard work, with professional assistance, to move forward. I have high hopes for Nora and her potential for happiness - and love - moving forward.
If you're in the mood for an introspective, thought-provoking novel of a young woman's journey of self-discovery, give this one a try.