Notes From My Phone
-Book Review by Diana Mumford–
Notes From My Phone by Michelle Junot is a self-described ‘weird little book’. This work is presented in a unique iPhone notes format and features observations from Junot over the course of a few years. These entries have no dates, only times, which helps reinforce the stream of consciousness feel of Junot’s writing. Junot portrays herself through lists, observation, and prayer, depicting familiar battles of love, faith, and weight struggles.
The author never intended to write a book. Instead, she jotted the beginnings of her future memoir in the notes section of her iPhone. Her “collection was written by accident and in pieces,” she reflects. Later, a friend with a dream, Michael B. Tager, the co-founder of Mason Jar Press, realized her scribblings and whimsies had the potential to become something more.
In her memoir, Junot’s complaints are relatively privileged, with lists including notes to “steal something from a restaurant” or “…delete old Facebook friends,” but the most hilarious incident involves her reaction to having a mouse in her home. The mouse run-in occurs over the course of several entries and eclipses her esoteric heartbreak involved the mysterious “Joshua” and her other unnamed suitors. She writes, “A mouse trumps almost any other problem.”
On the other hand, Junot’s reaction to her grandmother’s death grounds the work, rendering Junot a compassionate narrator. She mentions teachings from her grandmother, such as love, endurance, and faith and says “Before they closed the casket, they took the metal off her neck and handed it to me, and I put it on mine.” Junot is relatable in her grief, which offsets the apparent frivolity of her previous entries.
Notes From My Phone contrasts Junot’s id and ego and therefore highlights her self-aware self-centeredness in her approach to relationships. In one note, she remarks, “He doesn’t think I’m genuine. God that’s hard.” Junot actually views her self-worth through the eyes of others while indicating that she perceives herself to have high self-esteem. She writes, “For years I’ve wanted a ‘better relationship’ with other people, and I thought they were the reason I didn’t have one… I have totally judged them and thought myself more ‘put together’ than them when they have never once made me feel inferior.” In reality, the blame lies with Junot. She does not consider what she has to offer in a relationship, rather what the relationship has to offer her.
Notes From My Phone is a tender, honest, and hilarious account of a middle-class modern day twenty-something who eventually becomes self-aware. “I have this unrealistic view of my own heart,” Junot reflects. Her insight is emotional kindling to stoke your personal epiphanies.
Diana Mumford received her BA in Creative Writing and BSBA in Marketing from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She currently lives and writes in Charlottesville, VA.