Reviewed by Stasia Olashaya-Grill
Dream Job: Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager
by Janet Garber
Paperback: 159 Pages
Available for $14.99 on Amazon, or $7.99 on Amazon Kindle
A short read, Dream Job: Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager by Janet Garber offers a look into the up-and-down antics of protagonist Melie Kohl. From her hated boss, a brief murder mystery, the chatty incompetent, the gossipy grandmotherly type, and the general insanity of dealing with the even more off-kilter Axis Mundi medical center, Melie’s only personal excitement comes from a wry and raunchy sense of humor as well as a penchant for daydreams and vivid nightmares. She has little escape from her downward spiraling life. Until she goes to the country.
There the NYC-dwelling protagonist meets a country-living Don Juan named Ted who has a kitschy antique shop and an unhealthily close relationship with his pet bird. Despite it all, Melie starts a whirlwind romance with Ted.
On the whole, the plot is simplistic. Melie spends much of her time confused…about everything. As a woman in her late thirties, Melie’s gradual self-implosion of self-doubt and identity crisis is highly relatable. In a world where expectations are given and not always achievable, her yogurt dinners and badly-ending dream dates are as sad as they are entertaining. Melie’s dreams for herself are lead; if she has allowed herself to want or hope, she may have forgotten what her aspirations were—if they existed at all anymore.
The story moves at a very fast clip. A large cast of characters are introduced. Subsequently, it is difficult at times to keep certain characters straight or remember if the reader is meant to like or dislike so-and-so’s behavior or motivation. Melie is decently fleshed out with many of her internal dialogues written out. Yet her “dream job” is seemingly a mystery.
Does Melie want to work for Ted in the store? Not a huge logic leap, albeit weakly founded.
What “job” does Melie want? What exactly are her wacky adventures? There is an obvious dearth of breaking up rolling chair races, soda addicted coworkers who need to be escorted from the vending machines, or somehow ending up locked outside the building with fire alarms going off and the entire medical staff stranded in the rain.
What is clear: Melie wants an escape from the life she’s been living for the last decade. Whether this means quiet or adventure or something else remains to be seen. Despite the large changes in Melie’s life, she continues to define and judge herself by the maxims of others. To the end, she is a mediator and a people-pleaser. But perhaps her lapses of expressed—not repressed—needs, wants, and jealousy are the first stages to Melie discovering herself.
Maybe the best hope is for Melie to uncover her long-buried dreams and seek out her fortunes—preferably with far wackier adventures in her future. Perhaps self-improvement is her only career goal. Perhaps her best days are yet to come.
At the very least, Melie’s next steps see her helping others helping herself. And, perhaps, that is all she needed—even if it wasn’t a dream at first at all.
A PhD/English Lit dropout from the University of Rochester, New York, Janet Garber is fond of live blues and folk music, hiking in the “Gunks” with hubby, mixing up weird ingredients, following printed street maps, and solving puzzles. And trying to communicate with her two emotionally-challenged rescue cats. She’s published fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, articles, reviews, a non-fiction book, I Need a Job, Now What?, and the comic novel, Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager. Visit janetgarber.com for more information.