Stockboy by Thomas Duffy is the story of Phillip, a man who is in his dead-end job. Stuck with no relationship. Stuck in his mundane life. Phillip is a good guy. He is smart. He has a degree. He has an excellent work ethic. However, he feels like he is only spinning his wheels and wasting his time on a life that is going nowhere. He feels his life ticking away while waiting for his love life to work out, his bosses to see his potential, and fulfillment to come his way.
Phillip is such a relatable character. He is sort of an “everyman” underdog. Everyone has felt unfulfilled at some point in his or her life. Readers will definitely identify with this character. He is the typical good guy who finishes last. He’s smart and capable and a great worker. He also gets passed over time and time again for promotions or wage increases at his bookstore job. When he does find a woman he loves, his life tailspins in that area as well. He can’t catch a break. As my grandfather would have said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.” Phillip lives a “Groundhog Day” sort of life on his cyclical hamster wheel of a life.
The themes in the story fit right into our current social climate. Wages are stagnant. Growth is slow. College students owe student loans they can’t pay while working jobs below their qualifications. People can’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford insurance. When they do get insurance, they are still scared to go to the doctor for fear that the condition will be worse than they expect. People are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Opportunities for a better life are few and far between. People still manage to get up, put their torn sneakers on, and go back to the grind everyday. This is Phillip. He personifies a big chunk of the American workforce, and likely those abroad.
The writing is great. It is simple and direct without being boring. It doesn’t feel pompous or overbearing. Thomas Duffy is a good author that way. He reels you into his stories and his characters in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling he’s attempting to make up for content with flowery language. The content is there, so he doesn’t have to put on airs. I saw one or two simple typos. Beyond that, the spelling, sentence structure, etc. are great. This was an easy read. The book is easily digestible and could be knocked out in a weekend. Duffy books are always page-turners for me.
Other than a few minor errors the writing is solid, the characters are relatable and the situations they find themselves in will hit close to home for many readers. I like this writer’s style and have read his work before. He delivered again and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to read more of his work.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B00CA517C8
by Thomas Duffy
reviewed by Rebecca L. Morgan
"Every girl had their ideals they wanted in a man and Phillip knew he had practically nothing to give a woman. All he could offer was his heart and companionship."
Phillip Doherty is reaching a pivotal time in his life where the need to feel more established, both professionally and personally, is greater than ever. Nearing 40-years-old, he begins to take inventory of his life and discovers that he has fallen drastically behind in his ability to compete in the marketplace, despite possessing an English degree. Having spent his career in retail, Phillip is struggling to rise up from his position of stockboy at Milton's World of Fun, a New York City literary-themed store. Desperate to find romantic prospects, he ventures into the realm of online dating and meets Melissa, a successful law professional, and senses an immediate connection. Fearing rejection, he tells her that he is a teacher. Once he spoke the lie, he couldn't take it back without revealing his real occupation and more lies become necessary to keep Melissa from learning the truth.
In this relatable tale of how to overcome disappointment and the fear of failure, the author explores the journey to achieve financial comfort and happiness in a competitive workforce. New York City is the ideal backdrop for this underdog story that provides the opportunity to witness a bevy of characters confront the obstacles of daily living while pursuing more profitable employment. Phillip's quiet ambition and optimism drive the plot as he tries desperately to gain the respect of management and his peers. However, his insecurity and expectations for a different outcome while repeatedly taking the same actions, leaves the reader exasperated. The author scripts the novel's theme of perseverance and self-discovery through a simple to navigate narrative, balancing the characters' strengths and weaknesses with authenticity. In the end, it is Phillip's ability to value his own truth that is his greatest accomplishment.