Supermarket by Bobby Hall Book Review

The way to get a book under my nose is to have an involving cover. Something showing promise and passion. But Bobby Hall (aka the rapper known as Logic)’s debut has a cover so anti-passion that it’s impossible to disregard: Just the name “Supermarket”, the red is purposefully rough and slightly scratched, and the author’s name is at the back, not the front. But this is nowhere near a book bribed into publication and put into stores under a writer with a big name from another occupation. This book is absolutely wicked.

Flynn E. Montgomery is a 24-year-old, uh…loser. He just got dumped by his sweetheart because he spends all of his commitment on trying to write novels but he always gives up after he loses his way in them and tries to start another instead of either finishing one or going out to finding some actual money in a steadier job. All the agents have either rejected him or taken him off their books for him failing to keep promises. He’s had to move back in with his mother. But one day he gets a message from a company he never remembered reaching out to in New York, and all of a sudden he has a book deal and a 60,000 dollar advance for a book proposal about a regular guy working in a supermarket. To do this right, Flynn ends up getting a job at his local grocer, Muldoon’s, and gets acquainted with the weird and hilarious staff. He has six months to write his book and it has to be perfect. But his personal fears and problems just might cost him his dream.

I got this book as a gift, and shamelessly it’s most likely one I’d never have picked up even as an adult, but sometimes the instincts of my parents are right. Look; I’ve worked at a chip truck and a factory for a popular company. Both times I was terrified to start but felt like I won the lottery getting those jobs. If you can tell it honestly and with the same fear and stories underneath the application, every job-related story is worth a peak. If it’s a job needed to earn money, then a lot is on the line. If it’s a dream job actually earned or a job promising it down the line, there’s even more on the line because, as Everett put it in Greenwood, life is all about working. It just depends on finding the type of work that’s most fun. And when you work at a supermarket but have dreams of being a famous author but need the cash and experience to “make something of yourself”, well…story of my life. I think I can call myself a hard worker, but I have sometimes messed things up in the jobs I’ve earned over the years. I realize everyone does, but a panic attack Flynn endures over a simple order sure brought me back to the looks of disappointment I’ve endured. Ooooh yeah…

When Flynn’s publisher agrees to his idea for the novel, he says the premise sounds relatable for a mass market of everyday workers. Bobby Hall gives himself a worthy pat on the back there. This book is brief enough not to scare away readers preferring concise, non-threatening reads but long enough to get the point and character development across, and masterfully balances all sorts of fears within Flynn we all face; about disappointing those close to us, heartbreak when we do, distrust in ourselves to function, and feeling everyone else is successful but the world isn’t giving us the boost we need to also reach for our dreams. In short, I can’t imagine anyone I wouldn’t recommend this book to. I also can’t imagine people not getting freaked out when we think Flynn is swearing across the isle to someone annoying him and then goes complete and utter ape.

This supermarket really does feel like a community of criss-crossed individuals, most of which have committed to the supermarket, accepting they won’t go much higher because society won’t let them or they’ve embraced the comfort. Just like starting a new job, or starting a new school, Flynn wanders the mysteries of the world which are giving him a chance, and isn’t that what life’s all about?

In the Acknowledgments, Hall wrote that he took time off between Part 1 and Part 2, going through crises in real life and spending years contemplating life before actually finishing his debut up. In this tiny gem of a book, a lifetime (of sorts) goes underway of triumph within failure, of life throwing curve balls and still getting a home run. The power of love from true friends and devoted family go farther than many dare to think.

Supermarket blasts off like a rocketship to the sun underneath its plain encasing. It’s a knockout follow-your-dreams story grounded in haunting realities we all face on our persistent rock bottoms. I dare you to put it down!

If you like this, I’d try: A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe, and Chris Colfer’s YA books, Struck by Lightning & Stranger than Fanfiction

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