Jade Sharma’s debut novel, Problems (Coffee House Press, 2016), is funnier than it is sad, and it is terribly sad. Its narrator, Maya, is a heroin addict, and most of her other problems stem from this fact, but heroin’s presence here isn’t romantic or overwhelming. Instead it’s humming in the background of each scene, like the high-pitched whine of fluorescent lighting that must be endured in sad hotel bathrooms. In fact, addiction is no more exoticized than is falling out of love with a husband while desperately wanting to have children. Each one of Maya’s crises is close-up and pulled taut until every dark corner of motivation—including an uncomfortable situation’s inherent humor—is exposed. Her addiction, depicted through the kaleidoscope of Sharma’s fresh-voiced insights, nags at the reader, too, asking when it can leave, while simultaneously making itself essential by driving the plot into fantastic territories.