Mona at Sea by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (Website)
Genre: contemporary fiction
Setting: Tucson, AZ
I read it as a(n): audiobook
Narrator: Aida Reluzco
Source: public library
Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Mona Mireles is a 23-year-old recent grad. She has her degree in finance from U of A in hand and a posh job lined up in NYC. Then the recession hit and Mona, like millions of other people, found herself jobless and living back at home with her parents. Cue the angst and entitlement.
I don’t like to be hard on authors, especially debut authors. It is scary to put a large piece of yourself out there for all and sundry to read. It takes a lot of bravery. But this book… there was not one character I cared about, most of them I outright disliked, and it kind of highlights many of the reasons why so many people don’t care much for Millennials.
Mona is a whiny little bitch for all of this book. She seems to think she deserves to get her dream job right out of college, with zero actual working experience in her field. She whines that she HAD a job lined up but it evaporated when the recession hit. So instead of her fancy job as a hedge fund whatever, she winds up with a minimum wage job at a call center trying to talk people into giving a donation to some charity or other, which she thinks she is too good for. Guess what, peaches? Same thing happened to millions of people, most of whom probably had a lot more usable experience than you. I hate to be insensitive, or sound like a Republican, but you’re not special and the world owes you fuck-all.
To deal with her angst, Mona likes to do self-harm. She cuts her thighs, where it is easy to hide. But since art is her True Calling, not finance that she just spent 4 years in college working towards (and honestly, how did she go from art to finance? There was very little discussion on that, so it felt like a Plot Twist for the Sake of a Plot Twist), she doesn’t just cut. She is carving a Mona Lisa face into her leg. So, ok. I have no experience with cutting and to my knowledge, none of my friends ever did either. But I have read other books dealing with self-harm by authors who are open about their own self-harm experience. This read more like it was written by someone with a weird vicarious interest in cutting rather than by someone who actually knows what she’s talking about. If I’m wrong, then I am sorry; I do not mean to belittle her trauma. But I just don’t buy it as written. She made it sound cute. If the author has a history of self-harm and this is how she refers to it in her own head, ok. But if not, then it seems really patronizing to those people who do have issues with self-harm and it feels like it minimizes their pain and experience.
All of the characters were shallow and uninteresting in general. I didn’t really find any of them that believable. Maybe I just didn’t care about the plot and that translated into not caring about the characters. I don’t know. Either way, this one wasn’t my cup of tea.