Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 288 pages
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 1/5 stars
“Jen has reached her early thirties and has all but abandoned a once-promising painting career when, spurred by the 2008 economic crisis, she takes a poorly defined job at a feminist nonprofit.
The foundation’s ostensible aim is to empower women, but staffers spend all their time devising acronyms for imaginary programs, ruthlessly undermining one another, and stroking the ego of their boss, the larger-than-life celebrity philanthropist Leora Infinitas.
Jen’s complicity in this passive-aggressive hellscape only intensifies her feelings of inferiority compared to her two best friends—one a wealthy attorney with a picture-perfect family, the other a passionately committed artist—and so does Jen’s apparent inability to have a baby, a source of existential panic that begins to affect her marriage and her already precarious status at the office.
As Break in Case of Emergency unfolds, a fateful art exhibition, a surreal boondoggle adventure in Belize, and a devastating personal loss conspire to force Jen to reckon with some hard truths about herself and the people she loves most.”
I got this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. I really really didn’t like this novel. I thought the writing was poorly done and the characters were shallow, unlikable, and just plan stupid. There really wasn’t one single thing I found interesting or engaging about this book…
Mostly this book was just boring. The writing doesn’t flow well and the reader is jerked around from subject to subject in a way that is discontinuous at best; downright confusing at worst. We found ourselves immersed in the shallow culture of a foundation focused on the empowerment of women (I know there’s some irony here) only to suddenly be immersed into Jen’s struggle with fertility. Amidst all of this are scenes following the art culture which Jen is tenuously a part of as well; it was just not woven together well and was very jerky.
The majority of this book is incredibly insulting to women as a whole; I mean are the majority of women really this shallow? Even Jen, the main character, comes across as selfishly obsessed with having a baby. She does not consider other options such as adoption or spending her time helping out other needy children. She just drugs herself to the gills with fertility drugs and decides her whole reason for existence is to have a baby; how is any of this empowering? I think her husband is incredibly understanding about her obsession. However when he calls her on the fact she lets people walk all over her she basically calls him a lazy good for nothing who doesn’t earn enough money.
There is no plotline to speak of. The main character works for a foundation that is supposed to empower women (which is basically a farce and is funded via the foundation CEO’s divorce settlement) and is constantly letting people take advantage of her. After a lifetime of doing this all it takes is her husband yelling at her once to make her change her ways which I found completely unbelievable. The whole book wraps up in a way that is very fairy tale happy and very abrupt…and completely unbelievable and contrived.
Some of this could have been forgiven if the book was cute or witty, however the dialogue is weak and jerky and awkward. The main character seems to be in a haze that is either drug-induced or just poorly written I couldn’t decide which.
I will say that I am most likely not the intended audience for this book. I am an engineer who works in a highly technical field and with very few women. I generally go out of my way to avoid the type of people in this book. There really isn’t a lot in here I can relate to…it all seems incredibly inane. I also don’t read a ton of this type of literature but I have read much much better contemporary fiction than this. I found this book to be offensive and just very poorly written. This book is in my top five of disappointing books for this year.
Overall I really really disliked this book. I could probably go on for quite a bit longer about the things I didn’t like about this book. I am trying to think of an audience to recommend to but I am struggling with that. I wouldn’t recommend. If you can pick up the book somewhere and read the first few chapters that will give you a good feel for whether or not this would be something you’d like. I kept waiting for the book to get more engaging or witty after the first few chapters and it just didn’t for me.