Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Katrina Jackson - Office Hours

For Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Deja Evans, it sucks. Hard. Every day.
Between the class prep, the meetings, grading student work, trying to find time to complete her own research and the meetings, she didn't have a life, she had a digital calendar that decided whether she got to wallow in her feelings at 3pm or 7pm, on Thursday or maybe Sunday. And the worst meeting of them all was the two-and-a-half-hour, once a month Faculty Senate, which was drier than her dating life, duller than her skin in winter and far longer than her attention span.
The only thing that made those never-ending Faculty Senate meetings bearable was watching Dr. Alejandro Mendoza, Associate Professor of History, breathe. For years, Deja had harbored a kind of secret crush on the sexiest man on campus never thinking that he would ever feel the same, until one unexpected day, they have a steamy after hours encounter in her office and suddenly her life seems much more exciting.
That lasts about half a minute.
Over the course of a hectic academic year, Deja tries to survive her classes, help her students, prepare herself for her third-year review, and most important of all, she has to learn how to get out of her own way and just let Alejandro love her.

Comment: I saw this book being recommended somewhere and although I can't remember exactly what made me want to try it, I certainly decided to get the book for that opinion alone. I conclude that it had good things but it wasn't as wonderful as I imagined.

In this story we meet Deja Evans, a young professor who is braving the hard times of working to have tenure at the university. She knows her days are busy, that she said yea to too many committees and responsibilities but she believes she needs to show she is there. Her days are stressed but there's someone who she sees from afar and who inspires her, professor Alejandro Mendoza. He seems to look back at her sometimes but Deja doesn't really think he might be interested in her. Or is he? Things are certainly different this year and Alejandro wants to prove to Deja she is a lot more than she thinks...

For me, the best part of this novel was precisely what some other readers have disliked. I really liked all the content about what it's like to be a professor and the hard work and stress but the sense of accomplishments one can feel when things go right. As with everything, only those who never did it can truly criticize... I like Deja's character and the struggle she felt to be recognized and respected.

I'm not an academic, I only went as far as a master's but thinking about friends and people I met, I can see how the beginning is so hard and, in this case, Deja is also a woman of color, which shouldn't matter but, sadly, does. All the scenes and situations related to this felt poignant and only an example of the real life issues happening everywhere with real people, often completely out of our mind. I did like the theme not only because it reminded me of another time in my life somehow, but because books about women wanting to be respected and recognized aren't never too much.

However, this book isn't only about the road of a young teacher into tenure...there's also a romance component and, to me, that didn't really work out because although Deja and Alejandro seemed to be a good couple and when they decided to be together that became obvious, we didn't really see the pining and love from afar as long as we should. When they are introduced, the idea of them being attracted to one another is rather obvious but what about all the supposed feelings they also have? Those are just expected, we don't see it happen. The romance starts when they admit the attraction but the fun, sexy part of seeing them want the other for a long as they claim isn't in the page.

I should also confess I actually didn't like their sex scenes. I mean, nothing too bad about them, only for me they felt unnecessary, they didn't add much to the plot or to their romantic connection. I skipped most of them for not much seemed to be gained by having them or not.

Deja and Alejandro as characters were interesting and special on their on way, with how their personalities made them intriguing people. I liked how he author tried to make them so much more than a nationality or a race or a role but the intimacy between then wasn't as amazing as I'd have hoped and I also feel perhaps there could have been some funnier or more relaxing scenes in between all the more serious ones...some parts felt a little too dire and not romantic or cute enough.

All things considered, this only got to be average to me because I liked some elements but as a whole, reading the book wasn't as amazing as I anticipated.
Grade: 6/10

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