The First Bad Man by Miranda July

A review of the humorous literary novel The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

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Well, what can I say about this book? It is intriguing, frustrating, hard to warm to, and a struggle to find anything likable about the characters, but I still found myself turning the pages and thinking about the main character’s life. I found Cheryl—the main character—difficult because I was never sure if I felt sad for her, annoyed by her, or generally just confused by her behaviour towards the other characters in the book, as she seemed to let everyone just use her and not defend herself. I soon felt that Cheryl was a very lonely woman who did not have much in her life, until a new character named Clee entered the story, and from here Cheryl’s world opened up.

At my local book club we discussed how everyone knew of a ‘Cheryl’ in their own lives, and how we have all been, at some point, lonely—these two points made the story relatable. Also, the book is quite funny, although I did miss the humour initially and only realised during book club when someone read an insight, and I thought, “Funny.” I was able to visualise the characters as the writer describes them extremely well and picture the environment where Cheryl lives and works.

At first I only managed to read half of the book, and I was not alone in that as many others at book club had reached similar stopping points in the story. However, after we began discussing the book, the characters, their behaviours and relationships, I realised I had quite an opinion for the book considering I had only read halfway through, so I decided to pick the book back up…and I’m glad I did.

It is worth a read since it’s bound to provoke emotions and you will definitely discuss it with friends, family, and work colleagues.

A reader.

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