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Tina Fontana is the executive assistant to Robert Barlow, CEO of a media conglomerate and one of the most powerful men in the world. One day a travel expense reimbursement check lands on her desk in nearly the exact amount that would pay off the entire balance of her student loans, an amount that is figuratively pennies to the company she works for. After six years of watching her boss and his colleagues spend in excess, Tina wonders if they'd even miss what is such a small sum of money to them but would be life-changing for her. Could good girl Tina really get away with taking the money to pay off her loans and live with a guilty conscience? Tina finally decides to take the gamble and goes for it. But when another executive assistant at the company discovers the embezzlement and wants in on the action, their scam quickly grows out of control and it's only a matter of time before the assistants are sure to get caught...
The Assistants
My Rating: 3.8 out of 5  

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This debut novel is incredibly funny and well written. I loved the abundance of sarcasm and pop culture jokes (though many of the references went over my head). Sure, the story plot is cliche and full of stereotypical characters--it's chick-lit after all--but a bit of mindless literary entertainment is fun every once in a while. The book really is as formulaic as any chick flick/rom-com from the last couple of decades: Tina's the loner girl who is average-looking in a sea of beauties but she has a relatable, likable personality. There's the rebellious Asian chick who, shockingly, is the computer whiz. There's the flawless, model-esque, pencil skirt donning "mean girl" assistants who actually aren't as put together as they appear. What a surprise! And, of course, the hot guy at the company who's from a wealthy family falls for Tina, the average Jane, because she's "real".

What redeems the novel from descending full on into a banal story of the ridiculous, overly self-indulgent and illegal antics of some white girls (and an Asian chick!) is the pay-it-forward plan they eventually concoct. A generation of 20-30 something readers who are college-educated, underpaid and drowning in debt can relate to the struggle underlying the plot of the book. The social commentary is neatly woven in throughout and avoids drifting into preachy-ville territory, although I did find it hypocritical of some of the assistants to sit there and criticize the frivolous spending of their wealthy bosses when it's clear the assistants would spend just as extravagant if it weren't for their $30-40K salaries. The story also touches on the male dominance of high-power positions while women only get into the boardrooms with cocktails or a notepad in hand. This isn't news of course, but the novel does give props to all the hardworking women with the title of assistant and recognizes that they're capable of much more than getting their bosses coffee. It also explores the superficiality of corporate news media and how heavily manipulated modern "journalism" really is.

Overall, I liked the book: a funny and completely far-fetched story with a Robin Hood spin for the millennial generation. It's a fast-paced and entertaining read. I recommend it!

#1 - The Assistants by Camille Perri

NEXT BOOK: #2 - Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax