Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pub Date: September 18, 2018
Format: arc | Source: publisher
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of “Mr. Popular” whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people’s lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.
Unclaimed Baggage was really quirky- sometimes that worked (the store!! I loved the store, the stories behind the items, the other employees) and sometimes that didn’t (the chapters from the POV of a lost suitcase- stop trying to make me cry!!). I liked Doris’ POV best and I found Grant’s story and struggle refreshingly honest. I really liked the friendship between them and Nell. Some of the morals were a bit ham fisted and the conversations read very young at points but overall this was a good summer read with a bit of bite to it.
I had the requisite babysitting jobs when I was a young teen, but my first retail summer job was at Dick’s Sporting Goods. For some unfathomable reason, I thought I’d be able to wear Laker jerseys to work and basically talk to people about sports all day. That did not happen haha! I worked the 5-9pm shift and spent most of my time in the stockroom using a pricing gun and tagging items. It wasn’t quite what I pictured and I couldn’t tell you the name of one person I worked with.
My BEST summer job was when I got hired at a movie theater the day after my 19th birthday. I’ve always loved going to the movies and working in the box office was a lot of fun. Everyone was around my age, even the managers, so it was a great atmosphere even when things were stressful or busy. Inside jokes, spinny chairs when there were no customers, and making lightsabers out of poster tubes. One of my favorite parts of the job was when the delivery guy would bring new movie posters- my boss would let me sign for them and unroll them and it was such a thrill to see what it was! There was a fair bit of drama but I made really good friends and we had fun in and out of work. Free movie tickets wasn’t a bad perk either!
About the Author:
Jen Doll has written for The Atlantic, The Atlantic Wire, Cosmopolitan, The Hairpin, New York magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Toast, Topic, Vice, The Village Voice, and The Week, among others. She grew up in Alabama and lives in Brooklyn and upstate New York.
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Have you read Unclaimed Baggage yet? What was your quirkiest and/or best summer job? Let me know!