Summer Reads Series, Pt.1: The Assistants
Lighten up your treacherous, sweaty summer commute with a hilarious workplace drama from Cosmo Books Editor Camille Perri.
When I heard, around February, that May would mark the release of Camille Perri’s debut novel, The Assistants, a book about a hapless employee of a high-powered media and publishing executive, I pre-ordered it immediately—out of a mix of curiosity as to whether pop culture’s portrayal of ‘the assistant’ had improved since the (hopefully highly exaggerated) Devil Wears Prada days.
About twenty pages into the book, and already unable to put it down, I began experiencing a sense of déjà vu at the eerie similarities the descriptions of protagonist Tina Fontana’s daily surroundings bore to my weekday life. The “Titan Corporation” cafeteria sounded a bit too familiar to have been fictional. So, I made the grand effort of flipping the back of the book, only to find that, according to her author bio, she used to work as an assistant at the very company where I am currently employed—as, yes, an assistant.
While nothing about Tina’s daily workplace responsibilities bore any resemblance to mine, I reveled in the ability to picture the exact surroundings Perri intended to convey—simply because I spend 50 hours per week in them. Instantly, I was hooked.
The story itself begins with a simple expense report gone awry. When Tina files a report for her boss, Robert Barlow, the CEO of the “Titan Corporation,” only to find out that the charge she filed a claim for was reimbursed after she’s already received the check. Instead of returning it to T&E, she decides to cash it in order to pay for her student loans. When the assistant who approves the expense reports catches what she’s done, instead of turning her in, she decides she wants in too…and thus begins their “grand larceny for a good cause” scheme.
The book leaves you on the edge of your seat—you know they’ll get caught from the beginning [it even states as much in the prologue]; you’re simply waiting to figure out how. You’ll cringe as their scheme continues to blow out of control and shift uneasily in your seat every time Tina’s unsuspecting boss Robert Barlow demonstrates his fierce loyalty towards her. The book is warm and witty and a super quick read—take it with you on your commute and appreciate the fact that, however unmanageable your work life may seem at the moment, it won’t hold a candle to The Assistants.
PERFECT FOR: First day at your new job [ATTN: graduating class of 2016]