Brand-Changing Day Synopsis:
In the world of the casual American chain restaurant, brand-changing day signifies the start of something new—new menu items are rolled out, logos are redesigned, service procedures are updated, and old uniforms are traded for hipper, darker, flashier styles.
But for employees at The Grill in Youngstown, Ohio—including twenty-something server Scott Pelletier and forty-something general manager Geoffrey McCree—brand-changing day might be when everything changes. Forever. (Asymmetrical)
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When I read Shawn Mihalik’s novella The Flute Player I was captivated by this young author’s writing style. I eagerly awaited the release of Brand-Changing Day, his first novel.
Brand-Changing Day has a much grittier and modern premise than his earlier fable-like tale, but Mihalik’s prose, although stylistically different, did not disappoint. If anything, the distinct contrast in subject matter and style highlights Mihalik’s versatility.
I found the lack of pretence and comical lens used to describe characters very engaging.
The man walked into the room, his gait blithe yet stiff at the same time, carrying an important-looking leather briefcase, which he placed on the floor near the lectern with a thud like that an elephant might make were its hind legs to suddenly just altogether disappear from beneath its massive body…
… He had thick eyebrows whose hairs looked like they might have recently had a balloon rubbed up against them.
Mihalik’s lengthy and meandering sentences, at times almost verging on streams of consciousness, draw the reader into his characters’ thinking. Each characters’ thoughts exhibit a dark humoured and wry view of the world. All are very much aware they are playing their designated role, internalising their frustrations and opinions. Some are disillusioned with their lot in life, some are ignorant, and some are biding their time until they start living the life they are ‘meant for’.
This story’s initial kind-hearted mockery of the way people live their lives slowly reveals itself as something much deeper and darker.
The Brand-Changing Day at the restaurant where the characters work, is the central point around which the story pivots. Chapters are clearly labeled ‘x months or days’ before and after this event. Seen through the eyes of different narrators and jumping back and forth through time, the full picture is gradually revealed. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I really enjoy this type of storytelling framework. It heightens tension and suspense, without the corny soundtrack. Mihalik’s use of relatively short chapters also propels the reader along… ‘just one more chapter before I put the book down’…
Brand-Changing Day by Shawn Mihalik is an unassuming novel with great resonance in our modern society. It challenges us to consider our own personal growth and ask ourselves, how much do we really know about the people in our lives? Good and bad…
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5
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Genre: Literature, Drama, Thriller
Author Information: Shawn was born in San Diego, California, in 1990, where he lived until he was seven. In high school, he won several awards both as a writer for and editor-in-chief of his student newspaper, The Talon, prompting him to study journalism at Youngstown State University before deciding that his passion for writing was better directed at fiction.
Shawn currently lives in Missoula, Montana, where he writes novels, poetry, and short stories and explores the characteristics of different varieties of wine. His works include The Final Days of Poetry, a poetry collection; The Flute Player, a novella; and Brand-Changing Day, a novel.
* My receiving this title free from Asymmetrical did not affect my ability to express my honest opinions in this book review.
Courtesy of the lovely people at Asymmetrical, the winner of this giveaway will receive a copy of Brand-Changing Day in their choice of ebook format ( .mobi, .epub or .pdf).
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