Many of the books I’ve read recently have been well-known and best sellers. This week, I explore the work of emerging author Kerry Chaput and her recent release, My Boring Life.
Set in 1969, the novel centers around Gavenia, a young woman whose first year at Barnard has not gone well, and she’s on the verge of flunking out. She must complete several assignments during the summer to try to earn her place back.
As she returns home to lick her wounds and ponder her future, she faces her brother who has been wounded in Vietnam, a sister who lives at home and spends her days protesting the war, and two parents who are both hilarious and clueless. The family emigrated from Great Britain, with Gavenia being the only child born in the U.S., and there’s a parade of British food and customs, whether Gavenia likes them or not.
Simon, a crush from Gavenia’s younger days, reappears and sparks fly. But will he distract her from her schoolwork?
With humor and heart, My Boring Life explores a turbulent time in history that brought back many memories for me. Chaput uses music, television shows, and other imagery to anchor readers to that time period. Though the tone is light, she does not gloss over the seriousness of the issues she explores, including PTSD, the anger over the war, and Gavenia’s own dilemmas. After all, when someone is coming of age, their problems loom as large to them as any on the national stage.
I found myself wondering what the characters would be like today, decades later. Gavenia would be a few years older than I am, and I wanted to know how she ended up. That’s not a usual response for me.
This is a small press book, and there are a few editorial/proofreading glitches in the book (though I can usually find some in nearly everything I read these days). But the story is wonderful, and I hope we see a lot more of Ms. Chaput’s work.