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Max Holding On by Emily Stowe

Like a sitcom, only sadder. 

Max Holding, a New Yorker who just passed her 30th birthday is stuck. We know this through the adventures and mishaps she shares on her blog, Max Holding On—a series of funny personal stories and wry observations about her life. Despite all her efforts, Max can’t seem to move her life forward, her talent agency is struggling, her relationships are complicated — with her two hapless employees, her boyfriend, Jake, her family and even her dog. The only person she truly confides in through a series of letters is her deceased sister, Lanie. Enter, Blake Hardsley, a rising star who Max signs to her agency. In Blake she finds a friendship that begins to change everything.

Max Holding On is modern, female centric story-telling. It contradicts what you know about chick lit. Max is a single woman in her early 30’s, who isn’t obsessed with men, marriage, sex, babies, career or losing five pounds. This isn’t a “woman’s search for identity in the crazy modern world” this is a story about a human quest for meaning and connection in the face of psychological obstacles. Less Bridget Jones, more Larry David starring in a modern comedic version of Odysseus in the body of a 30 year-old Alicia Silverstone.

Note: Max Holding On is unfinished, and will likely remain so.  It contains some harsh language.

An abandoned blogfic

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Listed: Mar 16, 2014

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By Palladian, editor, author of Super

May 3, 2015: Max Holding On is sort of like riding a roller coaster – it might be terrifying in turns if it was your own life, but reading about it simply allows you to appreciate the ups and downs and enjoy the thrills. The author writes the chapters in either a letter style (to the protagonist’s dead sister) or in sort of a diary style, and the result is something that makes the story shine.

The author has a great talent in making the characters in the story come alive, and I really felt like I was right there with Max as she went to a backwoods wedding or entered a baking contest in her young mentor’s name, or in any of the other crazy situations she gets herself into. The story is both hilarious and touching by turns, sometimes side by side, and the author has a talent for making the reader feel it, whatever the prevailing sensation happens to be.

The writing is very strong, with very few typos to throw you out of the experience and the way she writes the protagonist’s thoughts and the dialogue between characters feels real. I should mention that it doesn’t appear that there has been a new entry in a while, but I really recommend this story nonetheless, since it was a unique and positive experience for me. If you like slice-of-life stories with strong first person narration, this is the story for you, too.

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