Based on true events, James Roberts’ debut novel, Enjoy My Misery, is a story within a story— beginning with the seemingly endless struggles faced by Maria Michaels while growing up and then shifting narrative focus to the hardships of her sons, James and Jared. Readers are given the Michaels family history through the lens of both Maria and James, which brings their mother-son relationship to life on the pages. The book’s duel perspective allows for an in-depth journey through one family’s battles with depression, divorce, drug use, and death. Enjoy My Misery is just how it sounds—a series of unfortunate scenarios that entertain to the end, and underline that even when all else is lost, love and family ties can hold us together and keep us from losing sight of what matters most.
Roberts’ work of fiction is a must-read coming-of-age story, and what makes this Bildungsroman unique is its scope—by including two points of view, Enjoy My Misery reads at times like a diary full of dark family secrets and at times like a conversation with a trusted friend. Roberts completely immerses his audience in such events as police chases, cocaine binges, emergency room visits, and high school basketball tryouts. Enjoy My Misery will have you laughing, crying, and probably wanting to call your mom to tell her you love her. This work reflects, as Stephen Chbosky wrote in his The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
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Most people would look at James Roberts and see an accomplished author and successful businessman. However, he is far from perfect. Not only did James drop out of high school, but he also stumbled into deep depression early in his adolescent life. Although he had been an all-star athlete, he was far from happy. He ended up making regrettable choices in order to feel a sense of belonging and worth, especially following his parents’ separation. Through it all, James knew that one day he was going to share his ‘misery’ with the world. James wanted to prove that you don’t need to be a college scholar or a perfect writer to put your heart on paper. (Just hire a good editor). He writes from the heart even when it is hurting the most. James’ experiences have inspired him to tell his story in order to reach young readers suffering from insecurity, sadness, and addiction. He hopes that one day a stranger will walk by, pick up his books, and understand and relate to how he felt through his words. James published his first book at the age of 30. He continues to write as an emerging author, hoping the world can comprehend his pain. He tries to make up from past mistakes by being the best son, brother, and person he can be to those around him. Maybe, in time, people will understand him, but until then, “Fuck it.” “Don’t judge me based on my past errors; judge me based on my growth from them.” -James Roberts