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Book Review: Grief and anger explode in “What’s Coming to Me”

I am all for the ‘good for her’ trope that’s become popular as of late, and Francesca Padilla’s debut novel “What’s Coming to Me” is a novel demanding to be added to that list.

In the sleepy town of Nautilus, Minerva “Min” Gutierrez hates her job at the local ice cream parlor. With her mother in the hospital again and freshly kicked out of school, Min is struggling to stay afloat and eventually escape her hometown. After an armed robbery at the ice cream parlor stirs up rumors of a hidden stash of money on the property, Min, her tough-as-nails neighbor CeCe, and ex-best friend Mary team up to find the treasure trove. Not to mention, getting revenge on her sexist boss who makes her life a living hell.

Min’s voice and characterization demands to be seen and heard–biting and full of rage for her situation and mother’s declining health. Her grief and anger guide her, but also force her to grow from the terror and grief that she awaits. Whenever her anticipatory grief and anger is brought up, Padilla masterfully reveals the harsh realities of having a chronically-ill parent and the emotions that run wild.

Padilla’s pithy writing style–with a touch of sardonic hilarity–is well-matched with the novel’s fast pacing. “What’s Coming to Me” is definitely a novel that demands to be finished in one sitting and holds tight to the reader’s attention.

The buildup to the climax was heart-stopping, but the ending felt unfinished and lackluster to the rest of the narrative. In addition, the light romance between Min and her coworker was forced and mostly irrelevant to the plot; there was little incentive for the relationship but the big reveal at the end was unexpected.

Both heartbreaking and anger-inducing, “What’s Coming to Me” never shies away from the hard topics and shows the human experience through Min’s explosive voice.

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