charisma in a box

filled star filled star filled star filled star star unfilled
mmz Avatar


Ava Simon is not, as the jacket copy would have you believe, another Eleanor Oliphant. She's grieving, having lost her fiancée in a car accident several years ago, and has shut herself off from nearly all social interactions. Her life is quiet, steady, and calm, consisting of engineering work that she loves at STÄDA (an Ikea look-alike), Monday lunches with a colleague, podcasts, and her dog. But when Mat Putman blows into her office like a charismatic hurricane, this self-contained existence is quite upended.

The novel follows Ava as she somewhat grudingly re-enters the world, learns that it is possible to love again, and navigates the truly asinine corporate culture at STÄDA. The office culture is almost a character in itself; think Eggers's The Circle, without the menancing undertones. The tone here is much more lighthearted, although it's clear that Mat Putnam is not what he seems. He's too goofy to seem truly threatening though, unless you count his misguided sense of self-worth to be a threat (and by the end, I'm not so sure that you'd be wrong to do so). Ava and Mat's personal drama, and the scandal-in-the-making that's been building up at STÄDA all come together for a satisfying, if slighly ridiculous resolution.