I don’t often take recommendations; generally, I prefer to find my books more organically, especially since my tastes are a bit all over the place, even more than with other types of media. You might think me weird, finicky, or downright contrarian, but it’s not like I try to be. I just know what I like when I actually see it; I give most potential books a first sentence/paragraph/page test, seeing if they grab my attention right out of the gates, because they probably won’t keep my attention if they can’t manage that. Maybe that seems harsh, but it’s how I operate. I’m the same with movies, basing whether I see a movie or not generally off the trailer(s). Friends have told me that trailers can be misleading, reveal too much, etc., except it doesn’t ever deter me. I’ve been burned way more times by movies that didn’t pass the trailer test than pleasantly surprised by ones that didn’t (those are usually Pixar movies, since Pixar often sucks at distilling their movies down to a compelling trailer).
All this is to say I’m cautious about going in (relatively) blind to things. Occasionally I’ll seek out things based solely upon overwhelming hype or prestige (I want those hours spent on The Power of the Dog back, please), but usually I’m much more calculated. Sometimes, however, I’ll consider the source of the talk, give myself just enough of a teaser to vet it, and then take the plunge. The Maid was one of those cases, with Dustin Rowles’ review getting my attention, and the opening line(s) (I forget how far I read) whetting my appetite enough to buy the book on a whim at a Books a Million, hefty price-tag be damned.
And, wouldn’t you know it, I read the book in a day, something I haven’t done in some time (graphic novels and other super quick reads excluded). As many commenters said in response to Rowles’ review, it is rather refreshing to get a narrator who isn’t neuro-typical. Molly is different, and not in the Jughead fashion.
No, she’s autistic (correct me if I’m wrong; she’s never officially diagnosed, as far as I can remember, but that seems to fit the bill perfectly), and her different way of viewing things, of acting, of speaking, is both a benefit to the story itself and what transpires in her life. Sure, it has its drawbacks, with there being bullying by her coworkers (sometimes behind her back, sometimes not), her living a lonely life since the death of her grandmother, who functioned as her caretaker growing up, and her inadvertently acting in what others view as suspicious ways (thus getting herself in some trouble)… but it also opens her up to special relationships with a select few, and to helping solve this book’s whodunit.
Furthermore, her being an unreliable narrator of sorts makes for plenty of dramatic irony. I found myself thinking “oh no, you sweet summer child” when she started getting especially friendly with one character, knowing how deeply wrong she was about him. Or when she did one of the many things that, at best, could be construed as simply “sus.” I knew where all of this was coming from, and how most others wouldn’t. I wanted Molly to find the happiness that she hasn’t quite had since her grandmother died, and I had a fun time seeing her stumble her way into it through a series of mishaps.
Although The Maid is a tad light on mystery, as one of the characters is read as easily as this book itself, yet there’s still a twist or two thrown in, namely the one at the very end in the epilogue. Also, one unexpected friendship warmed my freaking heart too much to care that I could’ve hazarded a guess at most of the answers to the whodunit the second a certain someone first showed up.
I look forward to more books by Nita Prose. She has the perfect name for it; if it’s a pseudonym, please don’t tell me, because I’d prefer to think she lucked into so perfect a name for her profession. Or that she was born with that last name and felt like she finally had to make good on it with this book. After The Maid, I’ll read whatever she puts out next.