Title: The Problem with Being Laura
Author: Ava Feliz
Laura Bayani is the most rigid person you’ll ever meet, from her white long-sleeved blouses with starched collars to her knee-length black skirts to her three-inch high heels. While her colleagues value her efficiency, it hasn’t won her any friends. For a promotion at work, Laura is advised that she has to prove she has the social skills to be an effective manager. Her colleague, Mikaela Perez and her brother, Miguel, agree to help. However, her every effort is met with disaster and Laura feels increasingly unsure as she tries to break free from her self-imposed chains.
Will Laura have the courage to find herself and maybe even love, to achieve things beyond her wildest dreams?
A lighthearted, humorous story about a rigid and stoic professional who needs to grow out of her “resting bitch face” to do things she has never done before.
Ava Feliz’s debut novelette, The Problem with Being Laura, tackles the experiences of Laura Bayani in her attempts to leave her comfort zone for a promotion. This is not a simple feat for our protagonist who is afraid of change. “Little Ms. Uniform,” as what her co-workers call her, Laura is precise about her work, hates wasting time, and always wears her knee-length pencil skirt, starched white long-sleeve shirt (buttoned to the collar) with blazer, and black formal heels even on Casual Fridays.
Laura’s regular work day was shaken when Smith & Guerrero Senior Executive Kathleen Jacob offers her an opportunity to be promoted as a supervisor.
Grateful and desperate for a promotion, Laura is enthralled that she is the candidate for that spot. However, she must face her greatest challenge that is to come – she needs to change herself. While her work attitude has been beneficial to the company, it hasn’t gained her many colleagues who’d like to work with her. She needs to grow out of her cold unsympathetic façade to prove that she has the social skills to become an effective supervisor.
Laura is accompanied by her colleague-turned-close friend Mika and her brother Miguel as she embarks on this journey to find herself.
Eventually, she realizes that she lost her old self on her way to adulthood. The story is spiced with Laura’s attempts to break free from her fears as she had series of downfalls and frustrations but she never gave up and continued to try – the perfect blend for a comfort story to pass our time when we are looking for a light read. This is Ava Feliz. She whisks the story as if we’re long time friends with her, sitting on the table in some café in our break time, as she talks about her friend’s mishaps. She had so much fun in the first part of the book with Laura’s small friendship circle – the dialogs are detailed and the characters’ ideas are spontaneous.
Feliz’s “chitchat” style of writing has hooked us to Laura’s adventures and squealing in delight to her interactions with Miguel.
Ava Feliz created not only situational humor but also linguistic humor. “Miguel, 28, single and ready to mingle,” is one of the corniest but outrageously funny self-introduction we have ever encountered. Laura’s blunt comebacks to Miguel’s cheesy pick-up lines are creative and witty counters to his flirty advances that had us chuckling.
This style is a joy for readers as the conversation flows freely and the characters’ personas are relatable that we’ll get to feel the classic office romance.
The second part of The Problem with Being Laura takes a sharp turn. Ava Feliz now takes the “chitchat story” to a serious mode. We are no longer laid back while reading as Feliz whips the story to the deeper size, having us leaning forward and shoulders hunched to know what happens next. Laura’s problems are not so simple anymore. Laura was put in a situation endangering her chance for a promotion, her family issues are closing in on her, and her relationship with Miguel is filled with tension because of a misunderstanding.
The major problem Laura has to deal with herself is also a problem we must all face – when our chances are getting blurry, will we have the courage to let go and start anew?
The greatest obstacle in achieving our dreams is no one but ourselves – all our doubts, fears, and insecurities that holds us back from growing. We only have to do that one, big, brave step to bring us to our goals. Only ourselves could allow us to grow, to improve, and to be better.
This book totally encapsulates the current trends and problems of young adults. Ava Feliz was able to capture the stress and frustrations of being a young adult, the suffocation and aggravation caused by expectations, and the harsh reality of competition in the business field. She also conveyed the joy of every start in very relationship and how scary it can be when things get serious.
Ava Feliz is successful in conjuring up a very relatable story for busy working people who can read this book in one-sitting, a break-time reward from stressful desk-work.
Out of five, this story is a three. The book is considerably good for a debut novel for a starting author, however some parts need improvement. Feliz’s style of writing is simple and straight to the point, although the story seemed as if it’s on fast forward. The lines are witty and funny; however she lacks the appeal and descriptive skills to establish a more concrete imagery, a smoother flow for the sentences, and to make the story more immersive. While it’s fun to read to pass the time, The Problem with Being Laura is not the type of book for readers looking for a solid and well-established plotline
About the Writers and How Do they See Themselves 10 years from Now
Alex Danielle Guerrero, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
is a low-key writer-to-be. She loves reading so much, she can’t stand a day without reading anything. She likes coffee, cafes, and calm mornings. Poems, proses, and stories she wrote are posted on her social media accounts. She’s an avid fan of fashion and plans to make a writings and a fashion blog some day. Late night is the time she’s mostly awake.
Ten years from now, Alex sees herself as a lawyer working on criminal cases. At the same time, she’s writing a book that is to be published. By that time, she sees herself as dedicated to her work and more sympathetic to other people. She is confident and ambitious, grabbing every opportunity she has to be better.
Alyssa Irish Layco , Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
is a girl unlike any other, though the reason is still not yet known. She likes spending her free time either reading books or sleeping. She loves chocolates as much as she loves the color pink. She never liked the taste of coffee, but she loves the mocha flavor. She likes baking and cooking.
Ten years from now, she sees herself struggling to finish her thesis for her final year in med school before becoming a full-fledged doctor. By that time, she sees herself as someone more compassionate towards others. She’s more ready than ever to respond to the call she has inside of her.
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