The Cubicle Next Door (Siri L. Mitchell)

Rating: [rate 5]

The Cubicle Next Door by Siri L. Mitchell What if God has more planned for your life than you do?

Jackie Harrison is a civilian who loves her job in the U.S. Air Force Academy. That is, until she is forced to divide her office into cubicles and share with a new history instructor, Lt. Col. Joseph Gallagher. A charmer in a flight suit, Joe wants to explore both Colorado and a growing relationship with his new cubicle mate. The office was bad enough, but Jackie’s beside herself when Joe shows up in her home and church, even turning her grandmother’s weekly bridge game into poker night!

Jackie goes online to vent, but she eventually finds herself admitting her conflicted feelings about this office neighbor who drives her crazy and makes her heart flutter. But when her blog — The Cubicle Next Door — is featured on TV, everyone begins to read it, including Joe. Will he figure out the anonymous confessions and frustrations are written about him? And how will Jackie ever express her heart offline? – book blurb

Ah, my kind of book! Christian chicklit with a geek blogging protagonist — who thought this could be possible? Apparently, Siri L. Mitchell thought it is, and came out with this book. I salute you! Fall Like Rain has hope!

I have to admit that the first time I started reading this book, I read it a bit too fast, which made me not pick up everything immediately. I decided I wanted to really make sense of this book, so I started again, and slowed down to really get to know Jackie and Joe.

The blurb basically covers the entire story, so I’ll skip the summarizing and dive right into the review.

First off: I love Jackie. I love her as a chicklit protagonist, since she’s not like the other chicklit protagonists I’ve read. She’s a geek through and through — loves computers, the environment, and could not care less about what she wears (she loves Chucks! Wohoo!). She talks about blogs and Internet and message boards and programming instead of clothes or movies or make up! Although I loved Ashley Stockingdale (What a Girl Wants, She’s Out of Control and With this Ring, I’m Confused) and Phoebe Grant (Dreaming in Black and White, Dreaming in Technicolor) and Savannah Philips (Savannah from Savannah), Jackie Harrison is the only character where I can see myself literally (except maybe for the environment thing, and the family situation she has). I can relate to her need to be in control, how she’d rather be on the safe side than to do things she “normally doesn’t do.” I can understand her resistance to major changes, like her grandmother’s re-marrying or her falling in love. She writes cryptic blog entries (woot!) and feels something safe about it. I think Ms. Mitchell did a very good job with creating Jackie, to reach out to chicklit loving female geeks, deviating from the fluffy chicklit characters.

I’m not much for Joe, except that I’m curious how his dimples look like since they kept on popping up in the novel. I like how he seems to be Jackie’s complete opposite but it kind of feels like he’s had the perfect life, save for his first marriage. But, as a male protagonist, he’s not that sickeningly perfect which makes him believable (and makes me wonder if guys like him exist, ha!).

I love how the story just went through how Jackie and Joe got to know each other. There weren’t many major subplots going on. It was just about Jackie and Joe getting to know each other, Jackie blogging, Jackie realizing how she’s falling for Joe. It wasn’t one bit boring, and their conversations were not dragging. I love the blog entries and comments in between each chapter; it makes you really see how Jackie’s blog played a role in the story. It wasn’t used to create Internet romance, but it did play a big role, especially after it was featured on TV. :D The novel in itself is composed of little stories that filled the entire thing and everything fit perfectly, unlike with the other books I read where I could remove some parts and still get the same thing. In fairness to their romance, it did not feel rushed, thus making it sound better.

Lesson wise, it’s basically about getting out of the comfort zone you created for yourself. Jackie’s created a safe zone for her that she was perfectly content staying in and had no intention of moving out…but most of the time, God doesn’t want us to stay there. There is life beyond the cubicle walls, you just have to be willing to experience it. :)

This will definitely go into my favorites list. Which means I have to get my own copy of this book. :D Other noteworthy parts (and quotes) for me under the cut. :)

  • When Jackie and Joe were church hopping, they ended up in a Catholic church and liked it. It was never stated if they converted, but it was nice to see that in a novel, since most Christian chicklits had characters in other Christian denominations. Not that it’s bad, but it’s just rare to see Catholics in these kinds of books. Catholics were mentioned in some chicklit books I read though (Reconstructing Natalie by Laura Jensen Walker), but it was just in passing. Plus points for this, and a quote I really liked:

    A statue of Mary, sheltered inside, implied infinite peace. A listening ear. A willingness to give you the benefit of the doubt. God knew what he was doing when he gave Jesus a mother. (p. 147)

  • For a “Christian” novel, this hardly talks about God. Yes, there’s the church-hopping, Jackie’s praying, and the discussion about Christmas and all, but it’s not too evident. Although the novel’s point is how God wants more for us than to what we want for ourselves, the faith aspect falls perfectly into place, like it’s just part of their character. There wasn’t even the “conversion” thing — Jackie believed in God because she wanted to do everything in the opposite of what her mother did. It’s not ideal, I know, but everyone starts somewhere, right? Jackie’s thought on Christmas is inspiring, though:

    He loved the world. Not just the people in it, but the entire thing. The ground, the trees, the animals, the air…he created all of it. With the same care he created us. We’re so egotistical that we put ourselves and our own conveniences first, ahead of all the other thousands of things God made. And the ironic thing is that he put us in charge of all this. We were supposed to protect it. And keep it. And all we’ve done is ruin it…God with us. Emmanuel. Jesus left the place where he was loved and everything he had and chose to spend the day with us in his perfect world that we had messed up. He saw beauty in things that were broken and people who were discarded. He redeemed us. And then he taught us how to reduce ourselves for others. Reuse the mess we had created to redeem each other. Recycle his words and share them with everybody. (p. 210)

  • I also love this other character, Oliver, who is her grandmother’s suitor. There was this part during Thanksgiving where he kept on standing up whenever there was a lady standing up, and when Jackie asked him to sit down, he answered this:

    If I sit down, then you will deprive me of the pleasure of standing to acknowledge your singular beauty. (p. 168)

    Win! :D

There are other quotable quotes in the novel about love, which I will post in my other blog instead, since this post is already long enough. :P Which makes me think…will my story turn out like Jackie’s? =)) Let’s see what God plans are. ;)

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