Break in Case of Emergency

Jessica Winter. Knopf, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-101-94613-8
Winter’s debut novel offers an entertaining and smartly satirical glimpse inside a New York City nonprofit startup. Jen, in her mid-30s and a new hire at the Leora Infinitas Foundation (also known as LIFt), attempts to navigate the office culture of meaningless jargon, comically hollow acronyms, and self-congratulatory meetings about vague project proposals. Jen, who is by nature accommodating and eager to please, becomes conflicted as she realizes that the company is more concerned with appearances than empowering women all over the world, as its mission statement claims. Still, unlike her coworker Daisy, who is hilariously blunt in her mockery of the foundation, Jen is determined to please her superiors and succeed in her position, having given up on her dream of becoming a visual artist in favor of a stable income for the next phase of her life. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for long enough that they’ve devised their own code language for doctors’ visits and fertility tests. But as Jen’s job begins to affect every aspect of her life, she’s forced to reexamine her choices, relationships, and aspirations. This is both a biting lampoon of workplace politics and a heartfelt search for meaning in modern life. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 07/12/2016
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-101-91193-8
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