Mickey Chambers Shakes it Up was a fun read. Mickey is a human ray of sunshine and a delight to spend time with. She is an adjunct faculty member at a university. Her love interest, Diego, is a bar owner and returning college student who isn’t good with people and just starting to come back to life after his wife died 5 years previously. When Mickey realizes she isn’t going to be able to afford to pay for the prescriptions she needs to manage her chronic condition on what she’s paid as a professor, she follows an impulse and applies for a server position at a local bar called The Saloon.
Charish Reid gives us a double power differential with Diego as Mickey’s boss at the bar and Mickey as Diego’s professor. They agree to not use their positions of power over each other. Things get more complicated during some closed door meetings, when they discover they can’t keep their hands off each other. I love romances with characters who are fully adult and still trying to figure out ow to be in the world. Mickey and Diego are both at points of transition and their romance spurs them to grow in ways they didn’t expect. It was lovely to read.
Several of Charish Reid’s books have centered Black women in academia. Here, she is asking, at what point does the bad pay, unstable work, and lack of appreciation outweigh the rewards of being a professor? Mickey’s status as adjunct faculty means she can’t count on making enough money to live. Like many educators, she puts a lot of unpaid time into her teaching. As one of many adjunct faculty members, she isn’t valued, no matter how nice the head of the department may be. She loves teaching and her students love her, but that’s not enough when she’s got bills to pay and a chronic condition to manage. When she starts working at The Saloon, she’s paid for her time and appreciated by her coworkers.* I like the way Reid grapples with Mickey’s worries about disappointing her parents, who are so proud of having a college professor daughter, and her need to be able to support herself.
Unfortunately, shortly after I began my review, seasonal depression interfered with my ability to write. So I am finishing my review at a point where I have general impressions, but depression makes my recall of specifics fuzzy. So, just assume that I think this is a good read for more reasons than articulated here. I’m opting to get this review, imperfect as it is out today because I wanted to use Mickey Chambers to fulfill the third January prompt of The Diverse Baseline Challenge: A book by a BIPOC author with a fat main character. I did not initially pick up Mickey Chambers for the challenge. I bought it last year because I enjoy Charish Reid’s writing, but hadn’t read it because I’ve struggled with reading books that don’t have an external deadline imposed.
*Side note: I used to work at a cheese shop outside of Washington DC. One day we had a woman apply for a job who had just left an impressive position at the Smithsonian. I asked why she would want to sell cheese after doing the high profile work she had done in DC. She said she wanted to be able to leave work when she left work and she wanted to be appreciated for the work she did.
CW: chronic illness, grief, death of spouse in past, side character discusses experience of homophobia from family and community in past, economic insecurity on page, abusive customers (misogyny) on page.