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The Cleaner

A Novel

by Brandi Wells

The Cleaner by Brandi Wells X
The Cleaner by Brandi Wells
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  • Sue P. (Hollister, CA)
    The Cleaner by Brandi Wells
    The Cleaner
    by Brandi Wells

    I enjoyed reading this book about a cleaner who works at night in a mostly empty building. During the day its desk-filled floors are occupied by office workers. The cleaner takes a lot of pride in her work, even though the people she cleans up after never seem to notice her hard work. Although she is invisible to the people she cleans up after, she wants to feel connected to them. So she imagines personalities and solves imaginary problems of the people who occupy all those desks, fantasizing what it would be like to earn their appreciation and friendship.

    Soon those imaginary personalities become more and more real to the cleaner. As the unseen cleaner goes about vacuuming and wiping down the office surfaces, she begins making subtle changes that can alter the day-to-day course of a worker's life. This book is often funny but also fascinatingly disturbing.
  • Arlene I. (Johnston, RI)
    Invisible…or not!
    During the day she is quietly working, but invisible because she already completed her work during the nighttime hours.

    The Cleaner by Brandi Wells is definitely a dark comedy. It is a story of an after hours cleaning woman in a high rise office building. The daytime occupants do not know her, but she is controlling their lives unbeknownst to them. As she cleans each desk area, she envisions the user in her own mind. What are the characteristics of each employee/employer? She determines that by going through their desk drawers, rearranging as she cleans not only their desk (inside and out) but also their emails and appointment schedules. Oh yes, she trolls their computers because they leave their passwords on a sticky note either attached to the screen or their desktop. She actually thinks she is being very helpful, directing their lives toward something good..or not so good. Ms. Cleaner's (she is not named) antics can be delightful..or not. As she keeps the office workers humming, she also keeps close eyes on the CEO of the company. You will have to wait to see what that is about.

    The author's writing style for this book is unique. One main unnamed character. The quips come fast as the reader takes on the observer role, hiding in a corner. You can actually visualize the employees by the vivid descriptions. I thought the novel was fast paced and finished it in two days..couldn't put it down.

    I really enjoyed this book. It has one voice and it does have laugh-out-loud moments. It would be interesting to have book club members debate the morality of The Cleaner. Don't you just wonder what is actually happening in your office building at night?

    I thank Brandi Wells, Hanover Square Press and BookBrowse for giving me the opportunity of reading this novel.
  • Ann Beman
    If an Ottessa Moshfegh character & a way-subdued Borat had a baby ...
    The unnamed cleaner works the night shift at an unnamed company in an unnamed city. In this dark comedy, author Brandi Wells shines glaring, humming overhead light on a grimy, mundane occupation. Is this titular character despicable? No. Deluded? Definitely. She has mommy issues, thus a driving need to care for others. Yet she has no actual human connections. She fancies herself the office hero, the company savior, despite not knowing what the company does, and despite not ever having met the people she's saving. Is the Cleaner likeable? That's not even the right question. The point isn't how we like her. It's how we're led to sympathize with her -- the unseen, unappreciated service worker who keeps things running in spite of the indignities. Wells allows us to know this character in granular detail. We cringe at her inappropriate snooping and disturbing behavior, but then we cringe at the obliviousness and detritus that she must deal with each night. Not everyone will like this novel. Without chapter breaks or named characters, it rambles and drudges because that is how this character rolls. No wonder she is driven to rise above. I was with her all the way.
  • Barbara P. (Mountain Center, CA)
    Have you thought about them...
    Ms Wells has delivered us a novel with a unique approach to her characters. I found this book to be a vehicle to self-exploration of my own attitudes, and a study on "don't judge too quickly." There were times I found the characters sympathetic and other times they were atrocious. This book explores the world of the people who support us in unseen realms.

    In all my years of working in offices, I have to admit I put very little thought into who emptied my trash and dusted my desk while I was at home with my family and sleeping securely in my home, and it makes me wonder if I had a nickname or caused undue hardship to them in their job. And on the larger scale, what do they see and uncover that no one else sees while they are focusing on themselves and getting ahead in their daily job - and how far will someone go to make what is wrong, right. I enjoyed this book and the reflection it stirred.
  • Jennifer B. (Oviedo, FL)
    The Cleaner
    Stream of consciousness writing is not a style of writing that usually appeals to me. However, I am delighted that I gave this book a try. It was well written and entertaining for the most part. The main character, "The Cleaner" was a clever deduction artist of personalities. Her insatiable curiosity about the people who worked where she cleaned each night was the impetus for her shenanigans in the office space when no one was around to see her. That said, I feel the book was a little lacking in action. After a while, I yearned for something of interest to happen besides the usual nightly cleaning. Perhaps a bit of mystery would have helped this book for me.
  • MarciaS
    Stalking in the Shadows
    What an intriguing concept for a book— the nightshift cleaning lady getting to know the employees she never sees, through her discoveries (and snooping) while cleaning the company floors and desks. It's also amazing that her behind the scene efforts actually make some profound changes in the company. However, she's not always accurate in her analysis of the individuals or their situations. She did evoke emotions from me in respect that sometimes I felt empathy for her, and at other times, I was rather disgusted with her. It wasn't my favorite book but I find myself thinking about the main character often so it evidently made an impact on me.
  • Michie S. (Herndon, VA)
    Unusual main character
    The Cleaner is a fascinating look at one woman's perception of her place in the work world. She cleans an office building but feels a responsibility for the people for whom she cleans up after, especially those on the fourth floor---the highest level employees. She wants to clean their desks AND their lives. I loved seeing how her mind worked. One thing is certain: I'll never take office cleaners for granted again!
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