Review: These Days Are Ours by Michelle Haimoff

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Title: These Days Are Ours
Author: Michelle Haimoff
Pages: 275
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Books)
Pub. Date: February 28, 2012

I didn't hear about this book until nomadreader raved about it. I have to say I'm surprised at the little publicity it's received, especially with a cover blurb from Jonathan Tropper, "Smart, witty, honest, and never anything less than utterly engaging." I will say that These Days Are Ours was and wasn't what I was expecting which I'll explain; but overall it was a quick and fantastic read that was iconic in its representation of modern day high society New York as well as in its depiction of what I'll refer to as the "quarter life crisis". It is essentially the story of Hailey and her friends after they graduate from college and try to figure out what to do next, set in NYC right after 9/11.

Despite the humorous authenticity of Hailey's (main character's) thought processes in the beginning as she tried to maneuver her way into the life of her crush, I did not expect the initial chick-flick/rom-com feel that I noticed. I also had expected that I'd immediately relate to the characters better. I mean, I knew I wouldn't relate to the whole "Fifth Avenue" lifestyle in general but didn't realize how far that lifestyle permeated; for instance, I have always worked, full time, before, during, and after college and felt that the lifestyles of the characters were too irresponsible, cavalier. I've always had an extreme streak of independence - never moved back in with mom and dad, have never bemoaned the woes of being an adult, etc. that separated my complete understanding of life from theirs.

But what did meet my expectations was that I was able to relate to the characters in a broader, more abstract way, as in schooling is finally over so what now?... as in entering and partaking in the reality of "the real world" that in your twenties you start to see from a new perspective such as learning that your parents are human and don't know everything. I thought this quote from one of the characters describing their work represented this well:

"And another thing that takes some getting used to is how seriously everyone takes this stuff. Like, the biggest account you could be on at BBDO, the account you would be on if you were rocking it, is Pepsi. And if you're somehow on Pepsi, the highlight of your life would be some new soda they were launching with even fewer calories than the old soda. And I'm sorry, but it's just hard to pretend to care that much about a lower-calorie soda when you've just been in college learning actual things." (p.155)

Writing these characters against the backdrop of 9/11 New York City adds to the whole "quarter life crisis" and the characters' startling realizations about what life does and will entail for them. It's a jolt into reality that I also experienced while in college. It's not what this book is about but it does have a part in teaching the characters about life and also about how their interpretations of it differ. The following is a quote from Hailey after she sees the debris at Ground Zero:

" Ground Zero wasn't the right name for this. Ground Zero sounded like a blank canvas. For now it should be called 'The Disaster Zone' or something. Ground Zero could be later, when the area was nothing but a desert in the middle of the skyscrapers. Emptiness. Dust to dust. Ground Zero could honor a time before accountants and stock market and buildings that loomed so large it felt like you were drowning." (p. 78)

After the book picked up, that "chick-flick" feel I mentioned earlier made way for a much more insightful and intuitive read.

These Days Are Ours is about life in your twenties, looking forward, starting careers, friendships, relationships, and just taking it all in. It's full of realistic dialogue, humor, sadness, and reality (told in part through the NYC nightlife). I read this in one day, almost in one sitting.

Rating: 4 out of 5


rhapsodyinbooks said...

It's interesting that you were influenced by a blurb. I occasionally am, but it depends on who is doing the blurbing and how often or not often you see that person doing blurbs! (Stephen King, for example, does so many you wonder if he actually could have read all of them - especially while writing his own gazillion page books!)

Ti said...

I read Nomad's review too but I really, really do not care for chick lit. Even just in feel.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I am on the fence as to whether this book would hold an appeal for me. Like you, I've always worked, always been independent. And I'm quite a long way past the 20-something age, and I find that I get a little annoyed with some of the attitudes I see from this generation (not all of them, but many) of entitlement. It does go a long way though to hear you read it in one day!

Zibilee said...

I also feel like I might not engage with the characters very well, Like Sandy and yourself, I have always worked, well before I started college, and all through it, and afterwards as well. I'm not so much bothered by the chick-lit feel of the book as the sense of "woe is me" attitude about being an adult. I love being an adult, and prefer it to being a broke and disenfranchised college student or graduate, but the fact that the book picks up a heavier feel does entice me to want to read it. Very introspective review today. I liked what you had to say about this one, and am glad that it finally pulled you in.

Juju at Tales of said...

This sounds rather good. Unique too. I always appreciate that.

Booksnyc said...

This one is new to me too - sounds interesting. I spent my 20's in NYC and wonder how much of this I would relate to.

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I haven't heard of this book either!

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