Write a review of the novel or memoir that you’ve never written.

{PROMPT: Write a review of the novel or memoir that you’ve never written}


If you are in search of a light-hearted memoir that highlights the beauty, pain, and just plain awkwardness of being a human being, you might consider picking up Jasmine Martin’s latest book. The book is a reflection on her days of working at Dollarama and is titled I Only Came in for One Thing (and I Have a Million Bags in my Car). This collection of poetry-style essays is accompanied by photos and illustrations provided by the author herself. The illustrations are humble, but they do serve their intended purpose of helping the reader to visualize some extremely complicated situations, and add a certain (awkward) charm to this little book.

An interesting element of this book is the fact that Martin offers her perspective on what it was like to work in a retail environment as COVID-19 played out. One of her main duties was manning the door at Dollarama. It was this job that inspired her personal life motto— “Another day, another door.” Essays such as “On Humans Standing in Line”, “On Humans Following Arrows”, and “On Humans and Plexiglass” contain invaluable insight about our human tendencies and just how alike we all truly are, even with all our differences.

Overall, this book is an enjoyable read—simple content expressed in a concise manner. My one complaint is that Martin chose to write this collection of essays in her go-to style of “poetry”, which is made up of quirky line breaks and inconsistent punctuation and capitalization. You can’t just put a line break anywhere, and then declare your work to be poetry. I have to wonder why the publisher allows her to get away with this. In an interview one time, Martin confessed that she has a fear of paragraphs, and it is this reviewer’s opinion that it’s time for her to face that fear. Come on, Martin. We all have to grow up and face our fears sooner or later, and you might as well do it sooner. For the good of your readers, please. Consider it. That poetry style might seem charming initially, but after awhile, it will wear down even the sturdiest of readers.

Although this book is a commentary on simple experiences, big questions are addressed. What is necessary for communication to successfully happen? Could one be satisfied working at Dollarama for their entire life? How do you take a surface-level relationship to the next level? Why do humans buy so much stuff they know they don’t need? Why are humans so bad at remembering to bring their reusable shopping bags into the store? The perspective that Martin offers on these questions is quite satisfying, and it will only be several days after you finish the book (probably while washing dishes or trimming your fingernails) that you realize she never actually provided answers to them. Perhaps her next book, Clean up in Aisle Nine, will provide the concrete answers we’re all craving.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful, humorous, beautiful book to add to your bookshelf or your coffee table, I Only Came in for One Thing (and I Have a Million Bags in the Car) is a great option.

Ricky Martin (drawit366.ca) designed this book cover for me. Thanks, boo!

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